Name of Album: Charango
Ratings: Personal - 4 General - 4
Release Date: July 16, 2002


On the first take Morcheeba made me believe I was Ulysses cruising past Siren isle. The slow-mo salt for music Giant Step has been promoting lately has me smitten like glue, enamored from my waist down to the bottom of my shoe.

With Charango, British trio, Morcheeba offers a sigh of relief in these troubled times. Track one, Slow Down, sets the mood with a track that tells us to "take your time now, feel like standing still, get your bearings" and continues in that mode with its brethren tracks.

Track two's Otherwise opening of passing string of violins is quite reminiscent of much of the Middle Eastern music I love to listen toŚfrom Lebanon's the beloved Fayrouz to the versatile and popular diva of Iran, Googoosh. The lead singer, Skye's, voice is no comparison to these superstar icons, but one can't expect legends in their own country to establish the bar, the par 5 hole by which to measure artists of the Anglo-Saxon world either. I recently came across an ode to Fayrouz by the Lebanese poet Saiid Akl that flows as follows:

In Lebanon, we sway with it, sail the seas with it as our mast, and because of it we love. Our betrothed women ask us to seal them with her voice, to dissolve its whispers into pearls for a necklace, and with its vibrations to encircle their waists; they beg us to pluck love songs for them from this voice alone.
The fighter among us who finds in her voice the will to survive, hears through it the swish of the sword and experiences his moment of valor.
I knew the voice before I met the singer, for it was in the air everywhere. I said of what I heard: this is the fluid gold of poetry and, more, it is my very love.

Such a tribute to the incomparable is not a proper yardstick. To be fair, the English siren is an average chanteuse who satisfies the need for this British production; her voice is endearing enough to hold its own through a dozen tracks. Moreover, the music overall on Charango, is quite pleasant. The artists stylized this venture after the Tropicalia movement formed in the 60s by Brazilian artists such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa. The results serve up a warm dish of international flavor that is savory enough to inspire me to (afore)mention some of my favorite artists from around the world.

Not a party album, but more like a mellow 60s smooth sambaŚwith a sprinkle of tempered white lust spin of a record to tango to. So, if my star-five is a Tiger Woods 15 under par performance or a Barry Bonds 650 foot slammer into the upper decks of Yankee Stadium, then Morcheeba, Skye and their Charango get three stars overall, with a 4 for purchasing worthiness.