Big Blue Ball

2009-01-20 07:54
 
Big Blue Ball
 
The Big Blue Ball project isn't about hitting you with a sledgehammer. It's more about the needs of the musicians on it, all of whom negotiated the time to explore their integrity, and the universality of music, be it prog-rock, Senegalese pop or Madagascan hip hop over a few years at Peter Gabriel's studio in the 1990s.

A lot of great "world" music is so badly produced in its home country's studios that it's sometimes hard to recognize the guy you heard live on the CD you take home, so it's inspiring to hear Madagascan hip-hop guy and valihaist Rossy given the slicker treatment… though South Africa's been raising the 2nd-World middle finger to that whole cliche for years. The usual collaboration junkies who were bigger back when this was recorded (like Sinead O' Connor) bring less interesting things to the party.

Peter Gabriel's snowy signature sound and Karl Wallinger's celtic sensibilities hold a relatively diverse set together. The result is a listenable album that as faraway as the earth from space, but never foreign to western ears. Unfortunately, while the different musical flavours do work together, but you can't help feeling this was all a lot more interesting for musicians to make, analyse and reminisce about than it is for the average fan to listen to today. Reading the liner notes make listening to the tracks afterwards a lot more rewarding.

Perhaps - even if your tastes are pretty eclectic - liking "Big Blue Ball" all depends how much you like fruit salad Or whether you're the kind of person who would prefer to eat the fruits separately - and whether a dollup of ice cream really make it delicious instead of just a healthy alternative to the mainstream of its time.


With all this accomplished musical talent featuring on one CD, it's a pity Big Blue Ball isn’t more interesting to listen to.

What to read next: Kalahari

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