02 August 2008

Big Blue Blob

various artists: Big Blue Ball
Real World RecordsBig Blue Ball - Real World Records

Eager curiosity may be the best description of my feelings upon learning that Peter Gabriel had collected a number of sessions taped in his Real World studios over the course of 18 years and assembled them into a new CD. The album features the likes of Francis Bebey, Natacha Atlas, Jah Wobble, Justin Adams, Marta Sebestyen, Hossam Ramzy, Sevara Nazarkhan, and the late Hukwe Zawose, all great artists.

Now, having listened to it, I wonder if maybe 18 years gave it not so much the taste of fine aged wine as a past-date loaf of bread.

Bookmarked by the bland pop of "Whole Thing" and "Big Blue Ball," the album does hit a few interesting points, particularly with Zawose's unique vocals in "Forest" and the unusual Malagasy rap of Rossy on "Jijy," paired with heavy programming and Jah Wobble bass lines. But alas, the whole album is over-produced (with the exception of "Rivers" featuring the marvelous vocals of Sebestyen), like the Afro-Celts run amok. A little more acoustic/vocal prominence (and less Gabriel) could have made this a remarkable album rather than a mediocre, mouldy mess. For a constructed-from-various-studio-tapes album done right, skip this and get Onno Krijn's Don't Be A Stranger: One.

If you must find out more, check out bigblueball.realworldrecords.com

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