A Universe to Come
(New Earth, 2002)
A Universe to Come by Tulku is a CD that fans of transcendental, ambient and electronica with a base in world roots are sure to enjoy. Tulku creates music that would draw the same listeners that bands like Deep Forest, Enigma and Amethystium attract.
According to the liner notes, "the word Tulku means the emergence of an old soul into a new body." The group formed in 1996, but during the last six years, their music underwent a transition. I have an album of theirs from 1998, Season of Souls, and can hear a difference, if not a progression with their work.
The main individual at the core of Tulku is Jim Wilson. He is in charge of programming and the artistic vision that combines the musical talent of guest vocalists along with supporting instrument players. The range of voices spans the globe from Indian to Peruvian. Jim shows that different languages can harmonize together in a complementary fashion.
"Swept Away" has an interesting combination of what I believe is Hindi as well as English sharing center stage. There is a light chant in the background that sounds Native American to me. Add in the drum beat and ethereal instrumentals and you have one of the better selections on the CD. The two main vocalists, Gina Sala and Sita Jamieson Caddle, also perform on "Durga," which is equally good.
The best song on A Universe To Come is "Rahda Ramana." Vocals are handled by Jai Uttal, and his voice is what carries this piece. I don't know what he is saying, but it sure sounds great. (Jai and percussionist Geoffrey Gordon both worked with Jim on the first Tulku album.)
While this CD starts off strong, it starts to go downhill in the second half and actually drops like a rock for the last two tracks, "A Universe to Come" and "I Am." In both cases, Bernard Pomerance provides narration to an ambient background. Without this narration, "A Universe to Come" would easily be one of my favorite tracks as vocalist Consuelo Luz has a pretty singing voice backed by Spanish guitar. Unfortunately, with the narration, the CD starts to sound like a daily affirmation album and completely breaks the mood that builds up to that point. If you like this sort of thing, you might be OK with these tracks, but for me, I find it distracting.
While I do not feel that A Universe To Come is the best CD Tulku has released, it does have a few gems on it. With 12 tracks, you could still skip over the last two and still have a full album. You can even salvage the last two if your brain can filter out the narration.
[ by Wil Owen ]