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Review

The pop route to mysticism



Inspirational Moments II
Milestone
Rs 125

Don't be misled by the "easy listening" tag on this tape. The pop drums may roll on with their undemanding rhythms, but the orchestra is mostly rich, and some vocals are exceptional.

Inspirational Moments II features stars like Yanni and Vanessa Mae and hit groups like Enigma. The theme is mystical experience, or at least a pop version of it, and 18 tracks explore it in diverse styles.

And so there's Latin and Sanskrit, languages of the gods. Of course there are other languages too, and some instrumental pieces.

Nocturne from Secret Garden (Norway) sounds like a short, soft piece extracted from a symphony. A single voice sings the refrain at the beginning and the end, with a violin and a harp building up the movements slowly. It rides on strong Celtic folk elements.

Yanni's Nightingale opens on silken violins, and the flute joins in to create distinct phrases, rather than abstract movements. The Greek composer, known for his concerts at the Taj Mahal and the Acropolis, cannot escape from what he specialises in: glamorous representations. If you've heard the tracks for Hollywood films like The Last Emperor and The King and I, you'll know what Nightingale is like.

Sarah Brightman sings Naturaleza Muerta to an occasionally strong violin orchestra; a church choir adds depth and sombre atmosphere to this piece about death.

Enigma impresses as always with Beyond the Invisible. Their unique combination of African drums, choral chants, and strange sounds creates a space of fantastic imagination. This blend has found an audience on MTV too. The video matches the fantastic sounds -- two lovers, from some fairy-mythical world, skate in and out of a forest clearing.

Craig Armstrong sings This love in her fragile other-worldly voice, supported by an earthy, heavy cello. The piano makes up the chords section.

Vanessa Mae, the teenage violin sensation, sings I'm a doun and also plays the violin. This must be a traditional folk tune from Ireland.

Emma Shaplin's Spente le Stelle begins on an attractive minor chord. The movements are tailormade for her operatic style. The supporting male chorus is vibrantly intense.

Bara Basikova's Latin Veni Domine uses more synthesized sounds than the other tracks. The religious overtones must be in the words; there isn't much in the musical interpretation.

Madredeus' Haja o que houver is quiet. Only the guitar chords keep time. Ah si mon moine by Mediaeval Baebes is in French. It has an ancient troubadour effect with a high pitched flute and a hand-held drum trying to recapture the music of the Middle Ages.

Song of Tears from Adiemus/Karl Jenkins-Cantus is performed by Miriam Stockley and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Its disquieting progressions are built on a grand scale, with impressive alternations between silence and full-orchestra music.

Edea's Jera is not as good as the other tracks though it appropriates the same religious mood. Sahin & Sepehr use the electric and acoustic guitars with subtle drums to bring out the poignancy of their Lost words.

Argo with their eponymous instrumental track use violins to good Moorish effect. The chorus adds its bit, but the rest of the track is full of rather harsh synthesized sounds.

Criara also has a track by the same name. The folk elements stand out. Pacifica's Mana has a soothing refrain throughout. Govinda's A modern mantra uses a Sanskrit sloka with a violin back-up and a steady beat. Govinda here isn't the Mumbai film star, please... They are a group doing chants and don't sound too distinctive.

The choral effect of Era with Ameno is soothing. The drums are used very sparingly until the second stanza when they break in to great effect.

EMI has put together this compilation from various albums, and if you find a favourite track or two here, you might want it in your collection.

S Suchitra Lata


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