photo & text by nacrowe
forget about how awesome the MARTIN SCORSESE film was (review HERE). in my mind opinion reducing the compositions found in PASSION (GEFFEN, 1989) to that of a soundtrack is criminal. this holds up on its own with no need for external stimuli whatsoever. not that i don't adore THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (UNIVERSAL, 1988). it is one of my three all-time favorite films (the other's being EAST OF EDEN and CABARET).
what makes this PETER GABRIEL album so fascinating and so utterly unique is how seamlessly he blended textures, instruments and vocals from the deep musical traditions of PAKISTAN, ARMENIA, MALI, TURKEY, INDIA, EGYPT, KURDISTAN and SENEGAL among other locales. it still paradoxically sounds absolutely contemporary while being steeped in substantial depth that feels eternal. tracks such as "THE FEELING BEGINS," "IN DOUBT," and "PASSION" are such deeply evocative affairs. they are the aural equivalent of a deep yearning to transcend, which makes sense given the religious subject matter for which it was composed. "A DIFFERENT DRUM" and "OF THESE, HOPE" are pure expressions of joy, elation and ultimately transcendence. you get the sense of being put on a higher plain of consciousness. its otherworldly music.
i first heard this album as a child and i still very much hold it very dear. it reminds me of going to church when i was younger and the unbounded enthusiasm and wonder i once took in the world. life seemed magical. im too jaded now, but as an adult id put GABRIEL with this record in the pantheon of great film composers, right there alongside BERNARD HERRMANN and ENNIO MERRICONE. its that great.
the ensemble of talent utilized her is likewise incredible, most notably that of NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN (PAKISTAN), YOUSSOU N'DOUR (SENEGAL), BAABA MAAL (SENEGAL) and LAKSHMINARAYANA SHANKAR (INDIA), all arguably at the peak of their powers. there is real sensitivity on the part of GABRIEL to make this music cohesive yet entirely personal, showcasing each artist in the best possible light.
if i sound overly effusive, its because this was a singularly powerful musical effort that made a great film an absolute revelation, pun intended. i could not recommend such anymore passionately.