Ancient Future,
Planet Passion
(self-produced, 2001)

Planet Passion is "a mythical story of love around the world," travelling through countries and continents, incorporating the native styles of music and reflecting the beliefs of those cultures. It features the core band, Ancient Future, and a veritable host of guest musicians. Essentially, a different band from this extended musical "family" performs on every track, and as they play instruments ranging from Chinese flute through West African drums to sleigh bells, it is no surprise that the concept of "world fusion" music originated with this group.

The idea is an interesting one, allegedly painting a musical picture to global courtship. This begins with "Flirtation," which turns into "The Nature of Courtship," progressing through "Sacred Eros: Invoking The Spirits of Love," which is inevitably followed by "The Wedding: Becoming One," preceding "Seduction" and ending with "Longing for the Beloved." Despite the many musicians and instruments involved, however, there is a certain sameness about the music that is likely due to Matthew Montfort arranging every track. He is also present on each track, playing a variety of guitars -- a constant theme linking the tunes and songs; personally, I found it somewhat repetitive. While they declare their sources to be as wide-ranging as Slavic, African, Cuban, Nepalese, Scottish, Balinese, Spanish, Egyptian and Indian, I thought it a pity that the diversity of these cultural influences was not more blatantly obvious. The strong occasional vocals of Irina Mikhailova complement the music, but it seems to me that she accompanied the instruments rather than vice-versa. She sings in a variety of languages, and the translations are provided on the colourful foldout leaflet. I enjoyed an arrangement of a 17th-century Scottish flute melody, "I Mett Her In The Medowe" and "El Zaffa," a vibrant Egyptian rhythm with Spanish overtones. These held my attention gently while many other tunes blended and faded into the background.

Despite the attractive packaging and impassioned work of Ancient Future, Planet Passion, for me, had only two notable tracks out of twelve. It is possible that I am just not quite "in tune" with this particular style of music, however, and am confident that this album will have many rapturous devotees who will regard my lack of appreciation as incomprehensible!

[ by Jenny Ivor ]
Rambles: 18 August 2002

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