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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

LULLABIES FROM THE AXIS OF EVIL

By Paul-Emile Comeau

Kirkelig Kultureverksted

When President Bush singled out three countries as the "Axis of Evil" his words reverberated far and wide. The actual consequences of his branding Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as "evil" may be hard to assess but one result is this unusual CD. Producer Erik Hillestad's modest approach to reducing the effects of the stigma was to emphasize the most fundamental commonality between all human beings. Lullabies are the universal common denominator and, regardless of their cultural origins, they all share the same musical, lyrical and structural approach. Hillestad traveled to so-called "enemy" countries, which also include Palestine, Cuba, Afghanistan and Syria, and recorded women, some of whom are professional singers, singing well-loved lullabies. He then approached composer Knut Reiersrud to write a modern musical soundscape for each acappella performance and then a dozen singers from the West, including Lila Downs, Mimi, Nina Hagen, Eddi Reader and Annisette, were asked to add English vocals to the originals. The results are intriguing but the production sometimes distracts from the purity of the vocals.