Mickey Hart: Planet Drum (1991)

[Kronomyth 7.0]
A Small Drum Circle of Friends.

Mickey Hart and a drum circle of friends that most would envy: Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Babatunde Olatunji, Zakir Hussain, etc. Planet Drum actually earned Hart and company a Grammy for Best World Music Album, though where such things are concerned it’s a small world after all. Using percussion instruments from around the world as well as voice, this is an interesting departure from the average. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, since uber-explorer Brian Eno arrived here nearly a decade earlier on works like My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Possible Musics, but Planet Drum is an equally exotic postcard from the edge. Some of the tracks are a little dry, which you might expect from a percussion-only album, but the stretch of music from “The Hunt” to “Evening Samba” delivers plenty of surprises. There are swinging, shifting grooves, water sounds, muffled voices, primitive and ethereal, native spirits and sexy shadows. Amazingly, no two tracks sound alike, the circle expanding, contracting and changing to include different players and different instruments. Here, Hart’s planet is more of a united nation representing African, Asian, North and South American styles into a new rhythmic language. Among the ancillary Dead discs, I buy Jerry Garcia’s stuff for the same reason a dog sits under the table during dinnertime. I buy Mickey Hart’s music to expand my world. (I don’t know why I buy Bob Weir’s records.) Planet Drum is definitely a different destination than the Dead, but I’d recommend it to rhythmagicians in a Hart beat.

The Songs
1. Udu Chant (Sikiru Adepoju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira) (3:40)
2. Island Groove (Sikiru Adepopju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji) (5:43)
3. Light Over Shadow (Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji/Flora Purim) (3:51)
4. Dance of the Hunter’s Fire (Sikiru Adepoju/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji/Flora Purim/T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram) (2:59)
5. Jewe “You Are The One” (Babatunde Olatunji) (4:06)
6. The Hunt (Sikiru Adepoju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji/T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram) (3:51)
7. Temple Caves (Sikiru Adepoju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji) (3:13)
8. The Dancing Sorcerer (Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira) (2:57)
9. Bones (Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Babatunde Olatunji/Flora Purim) (4:10)
10. Lost River (Sikiru Adepoju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji/Flora Purim) (2:58)
11. Evening Samba (Sikiru Adepoju/Mickey Hart/Zakir Hussain/Airto Moreira/Babatunde Olatunji/T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram) (4:30)
12. Iyanu “Surprises” (Babatunde Olatunji) (2:02)
13. Mysterious Island (Mickey Hart/Airto Moreira/Flora Purim/Jeff Sterling) (5:49)

The Players
Mickey Hart (bass drum, snare drum, hoop drum, tambourine, triangles, “Beam,” vocals, bombo indio with split bamboo, drum set, body percussion, rain stick, shakers, Earth drum, clackers, duggi tarang, bones, balafon, bell, gourds), Sikiru Adepoju (cowbell, duggi tarang, dundun, bell, gudugudu, djembe, grand dumbec), Zakir Hussain (udu drum, balafon, tabla, madal, dholak, naal, bells, taya, dundun, shaker, duggi tarang, conch shell), Airto Moreira (tamanco, bird calls, whistles, conch shell, claps, chimes, vocals, caxixi, rattles, yelling, chinese cymbal-throwing, snare drum, metal spring, toms, mexican donkey jaws, cowbell, cuica, flute, djembe, shakers, slit gongs, berimbau, cymbals, wood blocks, metal percussion, bass drum, snare drum, tambourine, bamboo with brushes, nose flute, body percussion), Babatunde Olatunji (djembe, congas, shekere, vocals, ashiko, ngoma, body percussion, shaker, bell, clapping, co-producer), Flora Purim (vocals, shaker, wind chimes, seagulls), T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram (ghatam, Jew’s harp) with Molonga Casquelord (vocals on 12), Frank Colon (shekere on 4), Giovanni Hidalgo (shekere, congas, bata), Bruce Langhorne (vocals and body percussion on 5), Caryl Ohrbach (shaker on 4), Gordy Ryan (vocals and body percussion on 5), Jeff Sterling (udu drum on 13, recording and mixdown engineer). Produced by Mickey Hart, co-produced by Sikiru Adepoju, Zakir Hussain, Airto Moreira, Babatunde Olatunji and T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram; recording and mixdown engineering by Tom Flye.

The Pictures
Cover illustration by Nancy Nimoy. Art direction by Howard Jackson/TRIAD. Photos by Kenneth J. Becker, John Werner. Package design by Steve Jurgensmeyer.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc and cassette on September 27, 1991 in the US (Rykodisc, RCD 10206/RACS 0206); reached #1 on the US Top World Music charts, won Grammy Award for Best World Music Album (1991).

  1. Re-issued on gold compact disc in 1994 in the US (Rykodisc, RYK-80206).

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