New Reviews: December 27, 2004

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Choying Drolma & Steve Tibbetts
Six Degrees

The towering Himalayas of Tibet and Nepal are home to many Buddhist and Buddhist-inspired musicians. Luckily, Minnesota-born, Steve Tibbetts, recognizes the rich and varied musical contributions of the Himalayan region. Steve's collaboration with Nepal's Choying Drolma, breaks new ground for incorporating Buddhist songs and Western arrangements. Steve's effortless and ethereal, atmospheric instrumentation and assorted percussion and guitar playing immaculately compliment Choying's soaring vocals. However, the instrumentation is never intrusive or overbearing. Steve strikes a perfect balance between Choying's voice and the instrumental arrangements. Coincidentally, "balance" is an integral part of Buddhist philosophy. Overall, Steve and Choying certainly shine through on Selwa without disappointment.

Eva Ayllon
Eva! Leyenda Peruana
Times Square Records

The Latin, lounge rhythms of Eva Ayllon, celebrates the Afro-Peruvian traditions. Eva's electric vocals are backed by piano, drums, flutes, violins, brass, bass, guitar, cello, and other typical instruments used in Latin music. The jazzy tunes are characteristic of some groups in Panama and Venezuela. Consequently, fans of Latin music from this region of the world should be comforted; yet enthralled by Eva's entrancing voice. Great lead and backing vocals, Latin percussion and jazzy arrangements!

Wildest Dreams
Peace Planet
Rolling Records

The members of Wildest Dreams hail from the USA, Japan, Venezuela, and Suriname. However, most of the songs are sung in English. Musically, Wildest Dreams performs Latin music with a jazzy tone and rhythms characteristic of central African soukous music. Male and female vocals accompany the diverse instrumentation. The kora, bass, talking drum, guitar, sax, and electronic arrangements complete the band's sound. A wonderful album of positive and uplifting lyrics.

Paul Schwartz
Aria 3: Metamorphosis
Koch Records

The arrival of Aria 3: Metamorphosis explores the world of opera and ambient soprano vocals by Rebecca Luker and the ambient, electronic and jungle beats of Paul Schwartz. The highly enticing musical conglomeration displays Rebecca's operatic voicings that traverse the ambient, electronic and undulating soundscapes of Paul Schwartz with ease. Fans of the other two Aria albums should be happy with Aria 3: Metamorphosis. Fans of Ronan Hardiman's Anthem release or any album by Enya or Emma Shapplin should check out the operatic vocalizations of Rebecca Luker on Aria 3: Metamorphosis.

Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is majoring in Biology and German Language/Culture. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. Also in 1998, he wrote a paper on Mongolian Ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 100 CDs that represent dozens of different countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.) In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing world music CD reviews for this site.