Various Artists

World Music [Celestial Harmonies]

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A relatively comprehensive overview of the relaxing side of world music. This album attempts to collect works from all inhabited continents, and succeeds to some degree or another. On many tracks, the various native musicians are joined and/or replaced by one of a few new age musicians that take up the majority of the show. Flautist Paul Horn, guitarist Brian Keane, David Parsons, and Steve Roach take their parts on 10 of the 19 tracks here. Certainly, they are capable artists, and they don't hurt the music itself. However, there is some aspect of the authenticity lost when a group of new age musicians is stirred so heavily into a compilation of "world music". The album starts off with a peaceful song by Guinean master Sekou Camara Cobra, complete with a gentle flute loop by Horn. It then moves on to a somber number from Mexico and a Turkish number, both accompanied by Keane. At this point, a lively Andean work is presented by Inkuyo, untouched by new age hands. A blind Japanese koto player follows, and then a duet between Horn and Taiwanese erhu player David Liang. A pair of works from Cambodia ensues after this, again without the aid of the foreigners (although they were recorded by David Parsons). Punleu Prey Viel is a solo performance from a Phnom Penh studio, and Kaman Prathom is a pinpeat performance by a number of farmers at Angkor Wat, both executed stunningly well. Vietnamese and Chinese performances follow, still unaccompanied and performed to good effect by their respective musicians. At this point, the stock new agers return for both accompanied and non- music from Turkey, Tibet, and Australia. The new age influence is unmistakable in these, with stray sitars and synth flutes abounding. Eventually, the album turns toward the US's R. Carlos Nakai, who provides his own takes on new age music with some exceptional flute work. The album finishes with numbers from Romania, Ireland, Mexico, and another bit from Nakai. Pick it up as a new age album with a world fusion influence, definitely. Do not pick it up hoping to get an overview of real "world music".

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