Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crate Digging: Trance Planet Vol. 1

Produced by Tom Schnabel

I had given Trance Planet up for lost years ago, and was very happy to rediscover it recently in my parent's house.  This world music compilation was a favourite of mine back in '94 or so, when I'd play the hell out of it at the used book store I was working at.

Trance Planet collects music from around the globe that combines traditional, often spiritual music, with a more modern presentation format.  Much of the music here is devotional, and the tracks that aren't, easily could be.  The 'trance' in the title does not refer to the electronic sound that dominated at that time, but instead to a religious ecstasy, although that sense does not work across the whole album.

The opening track of this album is a particular favourite.  'Nwahulwana' is by the Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocamique, and if ever there was a group whose work I'd like to see reissued by Analog Africa or the Voodoo Funk Academy, it is this one.  The song floats, and it's beautiful tones would never lead one to believe that it is about 'fallen women'.

I also love this album for introducing me to Cesaria Evora, with the wonderful song 'Sodade'.  The title of the song means 'a longing for what once was, or might have been', and while I don't speak a word of Portuguese, that feeling comes across in her beautiful, rich voice.

Other impressive contributions to this disc include Mother Tongue's Amharic piece 'Maray Wollelaye', and world compilation mainstays Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain.  The disc is quite varied, incorporating pieces that showcase the tabla, the sarod, the valiha, the oud, the al ghita, and the kanoon, as well as the choral (and throat) singing traditions of places such as Mongolia, Rapa Iti, and Lebanon.  The compilation finishes with a beautiful live recording of the Latin American singer Mercedes Sosa, delivered at a concert after she returned to Argentina from political exile.

This is a lovely album, and I can't wait to get some of these tracks into my ipod.

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