Various Artists – Spirit – Peoples of the Desert (Palm World Voices PALMDV3133, 2006)
A soothing antidote to any lingering remains of the all pervasive festive season schmaltz and late winter blues, Spirit is the latest presentation in a series of lavishly decorative and weighty packages of CD and DVD from Chris Blackwell’s (he of Island Records and Palm Pictures) Palm World Voices.
It’s a thoughtful and cohesive compilation, culled largely from albums of the 1980s and 90s, including elegant tracks from Turkish guitarist Erkan Ogur, “Çavin Ote Yüzünde” and from ‘ud player,
Anouar Brahem, “Conte De L’Incroyable Amour.” The relaxing segue of the first two tracks, Bel Canto’s “Buthana” and Desert Equation from Sussan Deyhim and Richard Horowitz, takes you instantly into a better frame of mind. Following through with Spirit’s theme of ethereal ambience, reminiscent shades of early Mercan Dede can be heard in the unhurried rhythms and sounds of both
Jamshied Sharifi’s “Anahita Will Sustain You” and Omar Faruk Tekbilek’s “Long Wait” – there’s a wealth of equally cool mellowness from start to finish, very suitably rounded off by the mesmeric “Assoul” from Tinariwen.
On the DVD, the CD tracks accompany splendidly dissolving and overlaid images of desert life and landscape, which could be viewed as a bit romantic and arty, so what? It will certainly have you hungering for warmer climes.
The accompanying book, rather more of a booklet and generously illustrated with photographs, is authored by Robin Denselow, the respected British music journalist. There’s plenty of description and background to history, music, religion, legends etc. but other than minimal listing, if you want to know more about the individual musicians and bands you’ll have to go a-googling.