Mixed Bag

A brilliant fusion of ethnic Middle Eastern sounds and modern Western dance.

Sarah Brightman's "Harem" serves as a brilliant fusion of Middle-Eastern ethnic sounds and modern Western dance. One of the better "world music" artistes of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber's ex-spouse exposes us to a world filled with mysticism, romance, beauty, and the majesty of her voice and music.

Opening with haunting Middle Eastern orchestration, the first song, "Harem", drowns the listener in a sea of soothing melodies which then diverts, or rather, flows into a dance rhythm like no other. The next song, a cover of the classic "What a Wonderful World", is a brilliant rendition. It looks at the original from a whole new perspective, which not only is fresh, appealing, and completely unique, but also manages to retain the same soothing element, joy and feel of the original. By this time, I was completely bowled over by her originality and talent. The rest of the songs are each different, brilliant and filled with surprises.

What sets this album apart is the fact that although many other artistes in this genre (which is frankly hard to define) have tried to fuse modern-day dance with ethnic cross-cultural platforms, none have managed to blend them as successfully and beautifully as Sarah Brightman.

This article was first published on 23 Sep 2003.