Fusion Andina,
Andean Symphony III:
The Andes Fire

(Inka, 1996)

Walking through my local summer fair, you'll hear the country-western and Tejano bands you'd expect from a small Texas town. But if you wander away from the main stage and into the vendor stalls, you'll hear something unexpected: the wild notes of a pan flute. It belongs to one of the players of Fusion Andina, though who exactly depends on the day. They sell pipes, song booklets and CDs of what they've dubbed Andean Fusion. The treat on the table when I walked by was Andean Symphony III: The Andes Fire.

The Andes Fire has some songs you'd expect from an Andean pan flute album; "The Flight of the Condor," which never really sounds right without some sort of flute, soars through arcs of intensity. "The Lonely Sheppard" (sic) starts with the strings echoing falling rain while the winds guide the eye over an empty landscape where a stream of "Water Home" dances beguilingly. But it's the familiar songs that really catch the ear, like old friends speaking a new language. "I Don't Know How To Love Her," adapted from Jesus Christ Superstar, achieves a poignant, hymnal quality the original version never even hinted was possible. The plain composition of "Yesterday" takes on new twists and turns that more than make up for the lost lyrics. They don't just sample from American or British pop culture; the "African Inka Rhythm" lives up to its title. Wherever in the world they come from, all the tunes have a natural, spontaneous sound without ever being rough, and the clear air of a mountain wind.

Sadly, there's no liner notes at all, and only first names given for the musicians who summon up this cross cultural music show. Lucky for those without the appropriate small town fair nearby, there is an order address: P.O. Box 774, San Antonio, Texas, 78293. Drop them a line and get yourself some enchanted air. And if you're ever walking through a fair and happen to hear the voice of a pan flute over the scheduled bands, walk over and take trip to the Andes.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 1 February 2003

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