One Night in Barcelona

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Thirty years on, Christian Burchard's Embryo, despite constant personnel changes, still managed to be one of the foremost bands to explore the outer reaches, where the musics of the world met one another and bled together. To call Embryo a "fusion band" is both accurate, and a gross understatement. There is no mixing together in the band's music, it is the creation of something completely new, multi-lingual, and transcultural they are after. On this evening in 1999, Burchard's ensemble numbered six, and played everything from ouds and nays, to flutes, cellos, drums, marimbas, trumpets, talking drums, and guitars and keyboards. Unlike previous live outings, where less than a handful of long jams were created to showcase the band's improvisational abilities, here there are 11 pieces featured over two hours on two CDs. Burchard's own compositions, and his arrangements of traditional pieces, are employed in a much more restrained showcase than the fiery jazz fusion bombasts of previous decades. If anything, this more nuanced approach is far more desirable because the attention to dynamics and texture allow for the tensions of all these sound worlds to collide in thesis, antithesis, and finally, synthesis. The most stunning works here are the revamped traditional pieces, such as "Oriental Wishes," "Osch," and the Burchard work, "Water and Fire." This is "world music" that literally speaks to a world of music.

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