By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Described by its producers as "a music-based time capsule of planet Earth now," 1 Giant Leap crosses cultures and genres with powerful music that bridges authenticity and innovation. The twelve tracks comprise a seamless mix of indigenous rhythms, electronica, pop, jazz, socially committed rap, spoken-word, and traditional chanting and vocal styles. Baaba Maal, Michael Stipe, Robbie Williams, Neneh Cherry, and Michael Franti are featured, along with other musicians and vocalists from Africa, India, and Australasia, who listeners will have the privilege of discovering on this stirring CD. Jamie Catto, filmmaker and co-founder of the band Faithless, and producer Duncan Bridgeman traveled from Britain to 25 countries, meeting musicians, DJs, singers, and spoken-word artists in intimate surroundings. Determined to truly integrate all of the participants into the mix, Catto and Bridgeman recorded in situ on Macs, instead of merely incorporating random samples once back home in the studio. The laptop Lomaxes succeeded in effectively obliterating the digital divide, creating a fresh, multilayered sound that echoes with tradition.
Among the eclectic pairings, Stipe's fragile vocals and Indian star Asha Bhosle's transcendent cries merge on the pop-trance ballad "The Way You Dream"; "Braided Hair" teams Arrested Development's Speech and Neneh Cherry for a hip meditation on cultural differences; and Uganda's Baligashma Xylophone Group and Maal back Franti in his life-affirming poem "Passion" with jubilant song.
At the soul of the CD, and more deeply explored on a companion interactive DVD, is the producers' quest to discover "the unity in human diversity." Song lyrics and spoken passages broach race, family, money, power, love, and death provocatively and poetically -- but always on the infectious beat, making the point that the main topic here is music's power to unite. 1 Giant Leap gives the worn-out term "world music" new and meaningful definition.