We could all use a little Shangri La in our lives about this time of year. That dirty, gray snow that’s been around since December is getting you down, not to mention the icy blasts of wind that are still hanging in there. For those of us who can’t afford a getaway to someplace warm and tropical, Gardens of Eden is about the next best thing. Featuring songs from Madagascar, India, Hawaii, Big Sur, California, and other locales, this is literally a musical tour de force. These works are on the mellow side of world music with string instruments dominating rather than drums. Brazil’s Ana Rita Simenka’s “Mais Filhos De Ghandi” (More Children of Ghandi) creates a beautiful mixture of bossa nova guitar and vocals with Indian tabla drums and sitar. And the overlaid Hindi chants contrast crucially well here. “Pais Azul” (Blue Country) from Costa Rica’s Guadalupe Urbina contains an incredibly evocative rising vocal line echoed by the mysteriously muted marimba. Tibetan Yungchen Lhame’s beautiful voice drifts in space over delicate instrumentation that seems to reveal the cosmos in your ears in “Happiness Is.”
The CD has a booklet with information on the artists and their native lands. In addition, there’s a page on organizations such as Friends of the Earth and World Wildlife Fund that are working to protect the natural environments of these places. With Gardens of Eden, Putumayo, among the best of world music compilers, has crafted another winner.
Larry Gabriel is the Metro Times editor. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.