Various – The Riddle Of Santa Catherina (Avatar)

Posted in Reviews 2006 by - November 15, 2006

The gushing press release accompanying this album asserts that if you look up “journey” in the dictionary, you’ll see this CD. Oddly enough, it’s not in my dictionary under that word; but I did find it under “piss-weak, washed-out chill clichémania”.

This is a concept album about a monastery in the middle of the Sinai desert. Apparently there are some riddles and mysteries attached to it; but whereas those old Tip concept albums (Yeti, Crystal Skulls) had some sort of explanation attached to them, all this does is to further cloud the mystery by way of highly shanti chillout.

Irina Mikhailova and her strangled-cat vocal chords greet you in tracks one and two; anyone old enough to remember Cat Von Trapp on the early RTTS albums will have some sort of flashback-cum-haemorrhage listening to this. For the most part, what you’ve got is electronic music with sprinkles of something vaguely Eastern; I hate to use the phrase I’m about to use, but by Christ this has been done before.

There are exceptions: Ocelot and Astropilot’s tracks are awesome, possibly because they don’t have that preachy, cod-meditative vibe about them, and as such they sound out of place here. Total Eclipse’s Moonlight isn’t bad either, going for that slomo 4-4 that Serge is so adept at.

At the end of the day this is so missable it’s barely true. It seems the case that it’s just any old chillout compilation, whacked together under the guise of a real-world monastery-cum-tourist-trap. If it was a benefit CD to buy a new roof or something, then I could understand it – as it is, this album is best summed up in comparison to track 3, Intoxicated Nomads by Goa Gil’s other half Arianne: a fifteen minute journey into absolutely nowhere.

Thoroughly pointless.





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