1 Giant Leap
Not everything on this record turns into gold. Sometimes things don't feel exactly right or matches don't quite work out but other times the nail is hit right on the head. Sometimes there is plenty of commercial potential (My Culture, Braided Hair, Passion) and the record shows off with intellectual collaborations with, among others, Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, Baaba Maal & Neneh Cherry. The songs that immediately stood out to me were The Way You Dream and Passion as they bring out the different corners of the world and blend them together within a scope of uniqueness and inspiration.
You can consider 1 Giant Leap as an alternative 'band'. I use the term loosely because they aren't a traditional band. Producers Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto divide and conquer. They composed a selection of songs, performed by different musicians. This results in an enormous melting pot of sounds and influences and miraculously they are able to weave together a solid album's worth of songs. The keyword in all this is 'harmony'. The record transcends boundaries, physical and imaginary ones. Starting out with the ethereal Dunya Salam (featuring Senegal's pride Baaba Maal) it combines influences from Africa with Middle Eastern spiritualism.
Further on the album we hear collaborations with pop star Robbie Williams (My Culture) which mixes in urban influences as well as electronic music, where 1 Giant Leap originates. While this track may have some radio potential it doesn't stand out among the other tracks from an inspirational standpoint. The Way You Dream however, which features Michael Stipe (from R.E.M.) and Indian artist Asha Bosle, is an absolute highlight as it blends sweet Indian sounds with Stipe's signature vocals. A prime example of harmony in many senses of the word.
The record continues with popular world music (Ma' Africa, Braided Hair) that have a certain catchiness to them. Ta Moko suffers from a bit of a bland arrangement. I'm not trying to say it's a bad song, but it has nothing memorable about itself. Baaba Maal makes another appearance on Bushes, which, also, is a nice song but doesn't quite stand out.
Then the next song, which has the appropriate title Passion, features Michael Franti. Michael Franti’s passion is obvious in this song. It is not only my personal favourite but also musically the most diverse song on the album. Together with Braided Hair it is one of the catchier songs on the album, and the passion and energy in it make it stand out. Bridgeman & Catto succeed in sending a message for harmony in the world by using harmony in music. The mix of artists, genres, styles, sounds and influences that come together on the record and on Passion in particular are representative of the search for a better world.
Daphne, the next song, featuring Eddi Reader (among others) is a very interesting song. It carries on for over 7 minutes, which might be a bit long, but it is very intelligently composed so it doesn’t get too repetitive. All Alone doesn't quite fit with the rest of the record. It is extremely spiritual and would be something used to induce a trance-like state. Slide it onto the Lion King soundtrack, however, and we have a winner!
The dreamy Racing Away floats a little bit, but in a good way. You get lost in the track that combines the best of the western world and the eastern world. It takes you somewhere, which makes it one of the stronger tracks on the CD. The closer Ghosts is very experimental and creative, in an almost esoteric way. It's hard to say which way I'm leaning on this track.
In retrospect, this CD is something you’ll have to feel, or even experience rather than just hear it. It’s a complete experience of music from all over the world, in which you can get lost. It’s epic, yet subtle. A great variety and creativity is displayed in these wonderful compositions. You need to have an open mind to really get into this and appreciate it as it is intellectual art. The keywords for this record are ‘harmony’, ‘inspiration’, and ‘diversity’.