By: Steve Itzkowitz
If you could judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a CD sleeve, then Caravan of Light has hit it on the head. This new anthology features many world music artists including Michael Franti & Spearhead. The Caravan Project explores and heightens light in a musical context that is connected throughout each track. The accompanying DVD - produced and directed by Sahar Farmanfarmaian with soundtrack writer/producer Joshua Penman handling the CD - gives insight on how to view light through vision as the accompanying "Fire Within" by Sussan Deyhim plays in the background. A subtle yet effective manner serves as the guiding force.
"Fire Within" leads the Caravan journey off and once it starts it's easy to follow the theme as it segues into Joshua Penman's "Dub Darvish," an Indian flavored story-within-a-story using the santur and spoken word narration by Farmanfarmian. The instruments on this collection offer a variety of world sounds and rhythms in a global trek that creates a trance like state as it progresses.
Michael Franti & Spearhead deliver "Skin on the Drum," which may be the crown jewel here. The upbeat, eclectic Spearhead rhythms mixed with Franti's words and a Bassnectar remix create a freeform project that merges music, art, new media, social involvement and community values dedicated to a constantly evolving ethos of collaborative creation, self-reinvention and boundary-pushing experimentation. In a nutshell, this track is what Caravan of Light encompasses.
The diversity here ranges through Persian electronica, Turkish flutes and even Tibetan monks remixed with California dub on "Dharmapala" by Ani Choying Dolma. It's this dizzying variety of different sounds that make Caravan of Light so appealing. Each track can stand alone, but when you put them all together the whole becomes bigger than its parts.
Light is seen through vision in the DVD, light is heard through sound on the CD, light is viewed through movement and light is emitted through human voices. The music created for Caravan brings forth a vision enhanced by the diversity of the musicians and their interpretations of light that go off in many directions.
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