Snow On The Sahara


Epic Records, 1998



Has anyone wondered where the Asians are? Outside of what is generically known as "world music", I mean. Seiko Matsuda was just wishful thinking, James Iha doesn't really count and Vanessa-Mae was statistically possible with the billions and billions of violin-playing Asians out there. Some Indian artists are getting recognition in Europe but aside from that the West has been reluctant to market potential crossovers from pop breeding grounds Taiwan or Japan. I live in Thailand, the nation where all Asian music (except we Korean hermits) crosses good-naturedly. The talent is here but the record labels are worried about album covers.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Anggun ("ANG-goon") released an all-English album (with occasional Indonesian lyrics for world music effect) which went to number one in France. I saw the majorly low-budget video on MTV Asia (to be more accurate, MTV Southeast Asia) loved the track and bought it at... -gasp-... the WESTERN section at Tower Records!!!

Right away it's apparent that Anggun has that falling of so many "English-language" albums, that of asinine lyrics. Poor X-Japan, poor Celine Dion, poor Anggun, but it's distracting from the attempted moods. It doesn't help the boredom of so much New Age music and Anggun sounds just too second-generation I'm-going-back-to-my-roots-with-my-Pepsi.

Except in the first track, the title song, where everything fits perfectly. "Snow On The Sahara" has gorgeous vocal (restrained) and percussion (ethereal) texturing creating visual, vital moods. It's almost worth buying an entire album for but I'd sooner download the mp3 (whoops... am I allowed to say that here?).

The album peaks occasionally when the Indonesian influences shine through, like the percussion chorus in "Over Their Walls" but it's largely overtaken by the rush to Westernize, the LYRICS, soulless emoting, karaoke production, and pathetic stabs at multi-culturalism (suddenly and without reason, singing or mumbling some lyrics in Indonesian). There's also a terrible cover of David Bowie's "Life On Mars" that I won't go further into. In the end, it turns out to be just another boring New Age album.

So Anggun isn't going to be Asia's Alec Wek. If she wants to get that ethnic mix she's apparently striving for, she needs to ditch those Australian producers (or wherever they're from) and get someone who won't make her churn out pseudo-ethnic dirge. Paging Kitaro.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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