How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Minneapolis-based guitarist Glen Helgeson is a musical world traveler. His Axis Mundi group delves into Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban and Haitian sounds, and his Gypsy Mania Quartet gets deep in the music of Django Reinhardt. With Distant Borders Revisited he brings members of both groups, and more, into the studio for an even wider-ranging journey.
A list of percussion instruments heard on the disc will give you an idea of the sound: doumbek, timbales, congas, udu drums, djembe, berimbau, riq. It's multiple percussion modes weaving complex textures behind Helgeson's guitarsincluding sitar and harp guitars that enhance the exotic atmosphere of the sound.
The set opens with "African Song." Helgeson floats his lilting guitar lines over a percussion stew. He's joined in the front line by violinist Gary Schulte, adding a gypsy tint to the Afro beat textures.
"Smooth Wes" is perhaps the least World Music tune on the set. It sounds like Wes Montgomery discovering the joy of taking a tangent out of the mainstream flow via Marc Anderson's spicy percussion.
"The Mambo Told Me" elicits images of a passionate dance, late at night in a tropical locale, and "Red Moon" features Helgeson on the sitar guitar, taking the music eastward on one of the more inward-looking tunes on the set. "A Wedding on Venus" sounds fittingly otherworldly, with Peter Ostrousko's mandolin adding a shimmer, while Keni Holman's clarinet gives the sound an Eastern European tint.
Distant Borders Revisited stirs up an entrancing, percussion-rich, whole world brew of sound.
Track Listing: African Song: Smooth Wes; The Mambo Told Me; Red Moon; A Wedding On Venus: Latin a la Linda; Room 231; River East; ...If This; Sweet Ears; The Whirl; Southern Exposure.
Personnel: Glen Helgeson: acoustic, electric, harp and sitar guitars; Peter Oshoushko: mandolin (5, 6, 8); Dean Magraw: guitar (2, 4, 10); Gary Schultz: violin (1, 3, 4, 11); Dave Stanoch: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 11); Charles Fletcher: bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 11); Michael Bissonette: udu drums, congas, timbales, djembe (1, 3, 4, 11); Marc Anderson: berimbau, congas, doumbek, tabla, frame drum; Enrique Toussaint: bass (7, 8, 10, 12); Tim O'Keefe: riq, doumbek; Gordy Johnson: bass (6); Keni Holman: clarinet (5); Lee Blaske: keyboards (12); Tony Axtel: keyboards (2); Debbie Duncan vocals (7, 12).