May 2000 Film Music CD Reviews Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
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Andreas VOLLENWEIDER (harp - with Carly Simon and various vocalists and instrumentalists) Cosmopoly   SONY SK 89096 [57:54]

Roll up, roll up; get your tickets here for the round-the-world musical tour with your guide, harpist Andreas Vollenweider. In Cosmopoly `World Music' meets `Easy Listening' in an appealing blend that can be tasted as foreground or background listening.

Lest Carly Simon fans get too excited, I have to say that she appears on one short track only, `Your Silver Key' in which she is multi-tracked so that we have a number of Carlys sometimes quite disconcertingly echoing each other. Nevertheless, it is nicely romantic and ephemeral. Another vocal number `Cor Do Amor' impresses more, with Milton Nascimento singing most expressively, in Portuguese the lovely sensual song `Openhearted' (words in English are included in the booklet).

The seventeen numbers on this album are supposed to fall into three groups as shown in what is called `The Loop Map' on the back cover (see the illustration) - although the album omits any explanation of this map. Two songs are omitted from it - `Peachtree Valley' and `Bright Moon Still Shining' - both with pronounced Chinese inflections. On the other hand, two songs, `Capriccio' and `Vals Del Sur' appear in two loops; presumably forming some kind of link? There seem to be some puzzling anomalies. Why, for instance, should `Morning Poem' a nice misty evocation, for Celtic harp and low whistle, appear in the Sunset-Road-Loop?

Andreas Vollenweider, playing various harps, performs on every track supported by varying groups of vocalists and instrumentalists. In three breezy jazzy numbers numbers: `Elle Chelle' (in which far Eastern styles mingle with Afro music), `Capriccio' and the wonderfully evocative `The Fishbirdtree', there are the vocal gymnastics of Bobby McFerrin supported by harp and double-fish-clay-flute.

`Hush, My Heart, Be still' introduces a Duduk which is an Armenian wind instrument which produces a sort of hypnotic sentimental wailing. This number sounds very Middle Eastern and the vocals add considerably to its entrancing atmosphere.

The aforementioned Chinese style numbers are equally beguiling. `Peachtree Valley' has traditional Chinese forms played by Chinese nationals on Chinese instruments and `Bright Moon Be Still' is a very brief number with a chanting of a Zen poem.

The trombone is starred in a highly effective and somewhat witty and lugubrious way in a very imaginative jazzy number `Will-O-the Wisp.' More unusual, is the inclusion of the bagpipes to give a flavour of Scotland in `At the Forest Fountain' which begins as though it were in Tennessee before settling firmly in Scotland and Ireland with the usual associated figures subtly syncopated. `Under One Moon' is another interesting fusion of Celtic, American country and Far Eastern styles and includes various guitars, fiddle, bask accordion and whistles and pipes.

`Vals Del Sur' bows in the direction of the old fashioned waltz. But its elegance is lampooned by the string quartet and the ocarina (Italian clay flute) and even Vollenweider's harp glissandis sometimes verge on musical raspberries. Similarly the same instrumentalists' popular ballad style in `Long Road to You' has a biting sardonic edge. In contrast the bright and bouncy `Petit Smile' is fresh youthful innocence.

Finally the amorphous `Ancient Pulse' allows amiable piano meandering over a stricter, yet varied harp pulse while `Stella' has an engaging melody and breezy rhythms with Far East meeting the Afro style again in this glittering jazzy number.

The lavish booklet has illustrations of the instrumentalists associated with the numbers as shown here.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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