AO Music

Grow Wild

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AllMusic Review by

Singer/guitarist Ric Gannaway and keyboard player Jay Oliver have worked as backup and session musicians out of Los Angeles for many years, playing in a variety of styles from bluegrass to jazz. Their combined credits provide some preparation for this ethereal outing, on which they adopt the pseudonyms Nahoo (Gannaway) and Jojo (Oliver) and the group name AO (which they define as "a Polynesian term for light & illumination"). Certainly, the intention is to create a species of world music, on which Jojo samples a variety of acoustic instruments from tambourines to Peruvian pan flutes, and Nahoo sings in an English sprinkled with words borrowed from several other languages when he hasn't invented them himself. (Esperanto, an entire invented language, is also widely employed.) But, in fact, the partners never stray too far from pop music: The title song, for example, sounds about as exotic as Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," which it resembles. AO's attempt to create a pan-cultural music and philosophy is susceptible to the charges such ambitious, vague efforts usually provoke -- naiveté, preciousness, pretentiousness. Their atmospheric music and paeans to mother earth aspire to cosmic consciousness, but retain the flavor of Southern California flakiness, especially when the root of their ideology comes down to "never choose off the menu and never be afraid."

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