Trance Planet Revisited

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Cape Verdean superstar Cesária Évora Photo by Joe Wuerfel, Courtesy of Lusafrica

In 1994, Triloka Records created a world music compilation series to focus on a more meditative approach to world music, as opposed to the African, Brazilian, and other dance-oriented tropical music popular at the time. They called it Trance Planet, and during the next six years, I personally curated the first five volumes of the series. I also selected the tracks for another compilation called Quango World Voices, part of Island Records, in 1995.

I listened again recently to these six albums and was proud of how good and how contemporary they still sound. The CDs are out of print, but you can still find them used (and occasionally new), and streaming sites do include a few of them. I thought I’d share a selection of the tracks from the series for this week’s playlist – a compilation of compilations, if you will. Unfortunately, many of the tracks on the original CDs were licensed from imports, and hence are not available for streaming. Fortunately, enough of them were to make this Spotify playlist.

Some of my perennial favorites here include music by the late Ayub Ogada from Kenya, Spanish singer Ana Belén’s elegant rendition of the classic bolero “La Mentira” (The Lie), and Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparyan’s astonishing “A Cool Wind is Blowing.” The latter was released in the West courtesy of Brian Eno, who heard the song (released on the Russian label Melodiya) while in Moscow at a friend’s apartment.

The late Cape Verdean superstar Cesária Évora’s most famous song, “Sodade” is here, and I’m happy to also include the late Camarón de la Isla’s song that fuses Indian music with flamenco. We hear another fusion track, this time of early (pre-Renaissance) music and Indian music from sitar master Nishat Khan and the French group Ensemble Gilles Binchois.

The playlist concludes with two tracks that I would have included on a sixth volume of Trance Planet, if the opportunity had arisen. However, the label decided to go with a different producer for volume 6. One of the tracks I chose is from Pakistan’s Queen of Sufi music, Abida Parveen, who takes us on a beautiful voyage with this long track from an album dedicated to her guru.

I could go on and on about these twenty songs. If you are interested enough to pick up any of these CDs, I wrote all the liner notes so you can find more background information about these amazing artists. Links to the albums on Amazon are included below in the playlist. I am proud of the compilations and happy that I was involved in their creation.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 8/20/19

  1. Milton Nascimento / “Ofertório / Quango World Voices
  2. Ayub Ogada / “Kothbiro” / Trance Planet Vol. 2
  3. Madredeus / “Matinal” / Trance Planet Vol. 2
  4. Vox / “While the Birds Sing” / Trance Planet Vol. 1
  5. Cesária Évora / “Sodade” / Trance Planet Vol. 1
  6. Ana Belén / “La Mentira” / Quango World Voices
  7. Camarón de la Isla / “Nana del Caballo Grande” / Trance Planet Vol. 4
  8. Loop Guru / “The Third Chamber” / Trance Planet Vol. 2
  9. Thierry Robin / “Ricsi, Kicsi, Kém" / Trance Plane Vol. 5
  10. Djivan Gasparyan / “A Cool Wind is Blowing” / Trance Planet Vol. 3
  11. Rachid Taha / “Valencia” / Trance Planet Vol. 3
  12. Stephan Micus / “To the Evening Child” / Trance Planet Vol. 3
  13. Steve Shehan & Baly Othmani / “Elalama Helalla” / Trance Planet Vol. 3
  14. Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique / “Nwahulwana” / Trance Planet Vol. 1
  15. Keur Moussa / “Mon âme exalte le Seigneur” / Trance Planet Vol. 4
  16. Musafir / “Run Jun Yale” / Trance Planet Vol. 4
  17. Nishat Khan & Ensemble Gilles Binchois / “Alleluia-Pascha Nostrum” / Trance Planet Vol. 4
  18. Jamshied Sharifi / “Through the Veil” / Trance Planet Vol. 4
  19. Abida Parveen / “Ghoonghat Ohle Na Luk Sajna” / Baba Bulleh Shah / Times Music
  20. Baird Hersey & Prana / “Ahimsa” / The Eternal Embrace / Bent Records