Multi-media world fusion project with star vocalists: Baaba Maal, Michael Stipe,...
Christian Hopwood 2003
1 Giant Leap is a multi-media project dreamt up by Jamie Renton (Faithless) and original Take That producer, Duncan Bridgeman. They journeyed to 25 countries armed with a digital audio video camera and laptop, capturing sound, images and spoken word from some of the world's most influential artists. The result is some magician-like mixes and a seamless and clever production.
The CD cuts down the music to the core and starts with the wonderful soaring vocals of Senegalese legend, Baaba Maal.
Braided Hair and My Culture have both been hit singles and the latter features Robbie Williams and Maxi Jazz. Neither has a particularly strong infusion of world sounds. The driving rhythms of the percussion and guitar do, however, set the tone for much of the music.
The Way You Dream begins with beautiful wailing from 65 year old Indian vocalist, Asha Bhosle, soon interrupted by a trademark REM guitar line and Michael Stipe at his passionate best. The vocal interplay continues with seriously mellow Indian percussion grooves, some sublime kora and then the inspired addition of drum and bass. It adds up to 8 minutes of something quite special, a marriage of sounds made in heaven. This track is in my desert island top ten.
Daphne features Romu Majumadar, the Mahotella Queens and Eddie Reader. The ethnic mix of vocals and rhythms works a treat while each artist remains faithful to their original style.
However, I had a nagging feeling that the CD was watered down and over-produced for western consumption. Would it really have detracted if the big keyboard synth sounds had been toned down to a minimum? If a bit more courage had been used with the arrangements?
Ironically that nagging feeling was washed away completely after viewing the DVD. There are extended intros where the artists have more solos and are brought to the fore. The percussive and rhythmic grooves are developed further. The whole experience brings the diversity of the world together in 155 minutes of stunningly rich and colourful imagery. Comments from the R3 Awards for World Music clearly show that the DVD has had a profound effect on a wide range of people.
The DVD is truly superb and more than deserves its two Grammy nominations. To be really successful, a future CD should represent the artists in the raw and in a more stripped down way.