Planet Passion: Mythical Stories of Love Around the World (Ancient Future Music, 2009)
The sumptuously crafted, exotic fusion extravaganza Planet Passion by Ancient Future is one of those magic carpet rides of a journey that’s hard to resist. Longtime fans will know Ancient Future from such recordings as Dreamchaser, Quiet Fire and Natural Rhythms. After a nine-year hiatus Ancient Future has returned with some new musical collaborators and a striking collection of love devotionals with Planet Passion. Led by founding member, composer, musician and arranger Matthew Montfort, Ancient Future has plotted a course, captured the wind and set the sails to take listeners on a mythical journey of love around the world with Planet Passion. And what a journey.
Opening with the Nepali folk song “Simsimay Panima,” Manose Singh lures listeners with some simply elegant bansuri flute playing against Antoine Lamman’s Arabic tabla and tambourine, Jim Hurley on violin and Mr. Montfort’s captivating work on the scalloped fretboard guitar and fretless bass. Planet Passion edges into the delightfully flirty composition by Mr. Montfort entitled “Forest Frolic,” with the bansuri flute and the Chinese flute, skillfully played by Liu Qi-Chao. Laced with guitar work by Mr. Montfort and the rich goodness of bass marimba and marimba by Hadley Louden, this track is a sweet, coquettish dance.
The tracks devoted to courtship “I Mett Her in the Medowe,” a Scottish melody, and “Ocean of Love,” an incendiary mix dubbed an “Afro-Slavic groove” on the liner notes ripe with African drumming by C.K. Ladzekpo and Ian Herman and Irina Mikhailova’s lovely Eastern European vocals are proof of the inspired musicianship that has been the hallmark of Ancient Future where fusion is driven to its razor sharp edge.
Planet Passion only gets better as the compositions move through the sacred Eros section with the hauntingly rich “Ochun” with Santeria priest Pedro de Jesus’s earthy Afro-Cuban chant against electric guitar and additional vocals provided by Ms. Mikhailova. “Semara” is a passionately inspired devotional to the Balinese god of love and shimmers with the blending of the Gamelan Semar Pegulingan orchestra, the original lineup of Ancient Future and added performances by Benjy Wertheimer on tabla and esraj, Mindia Klien on bansuri, Moses Sedler on cello and Mr. Montfort rounding out the sound on fretboard guitars and gangsa.
“El Zaffa” deepens the fusion flavor with some Spanish guitar and some dishy Middle Eastern percussion. The sweetly intimate “Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek” features the vocals of Ms. Mikhailova and the guitar work by Mr. Montfort, tabla by Emam and drums by Ian Herman.
Planet Passion’s closing track “Socha Socha” is a wonderful musical tapestry crafted by Ustad Habib Khan on sitar, Mr. Monfort on fretboard guitar, bass and bells, Doug McKeehan on keyboards, Ian Dogole on udu and sleigh bell and Jim Hurley on violin. This hauntingly bewitching composition, co-written by Mr. Khan and Mr. Montfort, soars, slides and bends the notes forming a perfect love knot.
Buy the CD:
- In North America: Planet Passion
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.