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Spirits Of The World
Image © 2000 Earthtone Records 

(23 June 2000) Spirits of the World (Earthtone (USA) 963-277-922-2, 2000) is one the better various artist compilation albums available today. Our exploration of the album was initially inspired by Miriam Stockley's recording entitled "Brave New World." As expected, her contribution was exceptional, but the other songs presented an unexpected and surprisingly good bonus. In fact, the first cut on the album, "Lyra," by Celtic Spirit, is a very close rival to Miriam's "Brave New World." It is a thoroughly enjoyable album.

"Lyra," by Celtic Spirit, a hauntingly beautiful song, is very close to our favorite on the album. The nostalgic a capella introduction gives way to a lively, upbeat musical accompaniment which leaves no doubt that it is a traditional Irish ballad. Ikarus' "In My Deepest Dreams," features Middle-Eastern vocals and percussion mixed with electronic accompaniment and produces a pleasant, upbeat listening experience. Godvina can always be counted on to produce interesting, unique sounds. "Compassion" is no exception. It is very difficult to categorize; a touch of Indian, Spanish, Middle-Eastern, and a few others we couldn't identify. The homogeny of styles and instruments creates a unique and appealing musical event.

"Summertime," by Angelique Kidjo is on of the most enjoyable renditions of Gershwin's Summertime that I've ever heard. It is sung in an African language and accompanied by traditional and non-traditional instrumentation. The total affect is pure listening pleasure. "Turale" by Yasue is haunting, seductive and thoroughly enjoyable. Upbeat, with interesting melodic intertwines, it is sung in an invented language, with unusual, unexpected vocal mixing. "Namah Shivaya," by Krishna Das is a Hindu chant, set to upbeat percussions, with interesting vocals. As a chant it is somewhat repetitive and might not appeal to a broad audience. Natacha Atlas' "Mon Amie La Rose" will certainly steal your heart. The style is a mixture of Middle-Eastern and Asian, the language is French, and the beautiful, seductive voice of Natcha Atlas brings it all together in an intoxicating, erotic musical experience certain to please listeners.

"Brave New World" by Julia Taylor-Stanley and sung by Miriam Stockley is one of our favourites from the album. Miriam Stockley, is one of the most talented singers/composers in existence today. And her voice is purely angelic. Given that, the track will appeal to the broadest of audiences. Sung in English, with African choral overlays, it is a celebration of Africa, Miriam's home. Totally, thoroughly enjoyable, the song is the best on the album. Primal Instinct's "Heart of the Rainforest" is relaxing, meditative, with the lush rain forest quietly overlaying the music. The mild percussions and flute prevent the common desire to doze off to environmentally inspired music. "Hope," by Bryan Miller begins with a quiet, serene score, which is gently modified with percussions and background vocals. The connection to a Central American primitive culture, as described in the insert, is obvious throughout. The theme of hope is solidly pronounced in this delightful instrumental.

Gaia's "The New World" can best be described as electronic and primitive. With the introduction of the vocal chanting, it almost sounds as if it might be Australian or Native American inspired. Whatever the inspiration, the deep spirituality of the song is its primary message and it is delivered with skill and talent. "Lhasa Love," by Suzanne Teng is a lively Chinese folk instrumental. Charmingly beautiful throughout, the children audibly playing in the background lend an added touch of cultured innocence. "Shivo'ham, Shivo'ham," by Dave Stringer is Middle-Eastern in style, the combination of instruments and vocals creates an obvious spiritual production that is pleasing, without the repetitive chanting found in the previously described Namah Shivaya. As with Godvina, Dead Can Dance can always be relied on to produce the unusual and unexpected. In "Yulunga," there is an obvious Middle-Eastern overtone, but the vocals remind of a Native American influence. A unique and penetrating musical experience.

This thoroughly enjoyable album will appeal to new age and female vocal enthusiasts alike. You can order Spirits Of The World at a variety of online shops including amazon.com by clicking here. With a stunning new track by Miriam Stockley bracketed by excellent work by various artists it is certainly a must listen!K. Donald Baer.

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