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29 août 2008

O’Connor on the Ball

August 28, 2008,, Off the Record by Mike Farragher

Big Blue Ball is an album by multiple artists which grew from recording weeks at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in the early 1990s. It features Sinead O’Connor and former Waterboy/ current World Party leader Karl Wallinger, who co-produced the project.

If you are a fan of experimental World music like the Afro Celt Sound System, then this record will be right up your alley. In fact, Afro Celts James McNally and Iarla Ó Lionáird join a diverse set of musicians like Japanese percussionist Joji Hirota, and Jah Wobble, who all dropped by during these recording weeks at Gabriel’s studio.

O’Connor’s voice is perched atop an atmospheric prayer called “Everything Comes From You” that begins in ominous tones that are drenched in feedback. It soon gives way to a gentle piano melody and simple prayer for peace.

“I’m your daughter/your mother is my mother/and my voice is raised giving you thanks and praise/I appeal to you, Lord, to stop war, to stop terror,” she sings purposefully. Japanese flutes waft in the background, making this tune infinitely more interesting than anything on Theology, her last faith-based album.

The disc is chock full of tasty textures that would be perfectly at home in a nightclub. Flutes, fiddles, and international instruments hug the bouncing beats to create a sizzling global gumbo. “Habbibe” is an intoxicating Middle Eastern track that is a highlight. The title track is a beautiful ballad written by Wallinger that features a more breathy vocal from O’Connor in the background.

In production for more than 15 years, Big Blue Ball is a project featuring several artists from all around the world working together. According to Gabriel, the initial recording was finished in three years during the early nineties, but “the tapes were left in a mess and it’s taken this long to sort out.”

Big Blue Ball was launched in America thanks to a venture-capital trust initiative. Bosses at London-based firm Ingenious raised more than $4 million to help promote the release in the U.S.

Gabriel has always had innovative ways to get music to his fans, and the Big Blue Ball project is innovative music that deserves your attention.

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