Mantra Recordings 6-09008 10292 3

Foretold in the Language of Dreams is both Natacha Atlas' attempt to parlay impressions from Peter Brooks' film Meetings with Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff's autobiographical account of his early life as a seeker; and to issue an ambient album with more down-tempo contemplative numbers than she traditionally does. Paulo Coelho's book The Alchemist and Stuart Wildes' The Force are also credited for inspiration while snippets of Gurdjieffian quotes appear embedded in Natacha's calligraphic vocalizations.

This album is thus a musical essay of sorts, on spiritual wisdom teachings translated into soundscapes whose processed vistas we've seen before from slightly different vantage points, by DJ mixers/sound engineers like Mercan Dede, Hector Zazou and Cheb i Sabbah. Essentially, Foretold gives us a full-length dose of what "Adam's Lullaby" and "Like the Last Drop" from Natacha's Something Dangerous album previewed - serpentine vocal improv over ambient pedals spiked with instrumental motifs and lazy neo-tribal grooves. Some numbers omit the vocals altogether.

Foretold is a fine excuse to enjoy Natacha's stunning voice without the relentless shaabi and predictable club trappings that usually surround it. As an ambient concept, the essential nature of the compositions is more float than earth-bound substance, more atmospheric sketch than photorealistic rendering with revolving melodic themes. This leaves room for the imagination to fill in between and around the melismatic vocal smoke, sitar drones, "general malarkey" (as the liner notes identify certain contributions) and neo-tribal trance beats.

For true admirers of the singer and lovers of what I call organic electronica (ambient fare without drum machines and synth loops), Foretold will have to be owned. Other listeners may place their bets on Natacha's Mishmaoul, her latest outing which can be sampled here ("La Lil Khowf "is particularly tasty).