From romantic sitar on "Socha Socha" to light, delicate vocals on "Ocean of Love," and ranging across multiple continents for musical origins, Ancient Future's Planet Passion album offers a lot to be enthusiastic about. The band is the longest-performing world fusion group, having formed in 1978, yet they retain their inventiveness in developing new sound and style melds. "The Scalloped Fret and Scots Tune Mett" refers to bandleader Matthew Montfort's performance of "I Mett Her in the Medowe," a mysterious Scottish mandora melody from 1615, with "the ornaments and note bends of the scalloped fretboard guitar, an instrument combining aspects of the South Indian vina with the steel string guitar." Again, it's an elegant success. "Slavic Seduction" is a traditional Russian folksong and "Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonocheck" is about a young couple's first night together. It features vocals by artist Irina Mikhailova, which combine effectively, if almost eerily, with the band's Eastern sound. Meanwhile, "El Zaffa" brings in the Arabic influence of a lively wedding march, and becomes another of Ancient Future's excellent adaptations. "Forest Frolic (Bamboo Flute Magic)," the band's first release after a six-year hiatus, is a playful, spritely conjunction of bamboo flute work by two Asian flute virtuosos. Chinese multi-instrumentalist Liu Qi-Chao and Nepali bansuri master Manose Singh join efforts, and the result is truly splendid -- joyous and lilting. What a welcome return for Ancient Future. Devotees of the best in world fusion will surely wish to add Planet Passion to their collections.
AllMusic Review by Murrday Fisher