Deep Forest,
(Epic, 1995)

Imagine this for a minute: you're in front of a campfire in a Slavic state. The fire is warm, and the company is, too. Someone with an accordion begins to play, another begins to drum, and over it all, a man begins to sing an age-old song that his grandfathers before him have sung, wistfully recalling the memories of childhood and strife, knowing even as they sing that the words are being heard and remembered by the sleepy children who warm their hands before the same fires.

This is Deep Forest, drawing from some of the traditional folk songs of Transylvania and the Slavic states for the album Boheme. They have taken the traditional words, traditional singers and traditional instruments, and have remastered them, adding a low dance beat and additional sound textures to create a tapestry of music that can't help but be complex and engaging.

The entire CD is a dream of eastern Europe, set to music and made tangible by these musicians who truly deserve to be called "artists." Track two, for example, "Bohemian Ballet," derives its complicated rhythm from the sounds of women's hands clapping, and its lilting melody from the exaulted voices of ancient singers. Track three, "Marta's Song," is much the same, but with an altogether different feel -- reposing, joyful satisfaction and love after a day long in the hours and completed work.

Listening to this collection, it seems chameleon-like. It is a perfect backdrop if there is other work to be done, soft and unchallenging on the surface, allowing your mind to drift to the task at hand, and keeping the pleasant banter over your internal dialogue. Alternately, when listened to specifically, in the car or before bed, it takes on a different flavor, with enough layers of complexity to keep the active mind busy without additional input. It transports you, taking you to a place buried deep in your psyche, where the primal white-noise ceases.

More than just a distraction, this work is a masterpiece, able to feed the soul as well as the imagination. It truly is a piece of audio magic, preserved for ears ready to listen. Don't miss out.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]

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