Andreas Vollenweider's Cosmopoly finds the Swiss harpist collaborating with artists like Carlos Nunez, Abdulla Ibrahim, and Ray Anderson, and exploring the music of Africa, Brazil, China, Ireland, and the U.S.
Fittingly, Vollenweider's palette of instruments on this album includes the ocarina, gu cheng, baby koto, 12-string guitar, Bavarian folk harp, Celtic harp, and Chinese harp, along with his usual custom-made rhythm harp.
"Morning Poem," Vollenweider's Celtic-inspired duet with Nunez, is all the more moving for its restraint, and the unusual fusion of Bobby McFerrin's vocals with Chinese harp on "Elle Chelle" is another highlight.
Ibrahim and Vollenweider create a smoky Armenian atmosphere on their doudouk/harp duet "Hush, My Heart, Be Still," and "Peachtree Valley" evokes a lush Chinese landscape, though the overly glossy production is somewhat distracting.
Carly Simon's recitation of part of "Finnegan's Wake" on "Your Silver Key" is also slightly jarring, and some of the album's jazzier tracks seem out of place, but for the most part, Cosmopoly offers an intriguing fusion of traditional, indigenous styles and new musical ideas.