WorldClass Records, 2000
artist website, label website
Third Planet joins the growing party of dance-happy WorldBeat hosts that includes other celebrities like Agricantus, Deep Forest, Tulku and AsiaBeat. In keeping with the makeup of its band members, the stylistic non-focus is a function of flying under multiple flags: Italy (Maurizio Dami/keyboards, Paolo Casu/perucssion), Kurdistan (Nazar/vocals, saz), Algeria (Rai-fan Smail Kouider Aissa/vocals, keyboards), and India (Rashmi V. Bhatt/tablas).

African desert vocals meet pulsating Indian bhols and voice percussion echoed by faint voice coder shadows.

The muezzins unbuckle their garments and whirl in the Kasbah with lifting hems to the phat house beats of the local disco enclave

The Yulduz Usmanova band visits from Usbekistan and lends a helping hand.

Like dining Hong Kong where the culinary mantra states that if it moves it's eaten, anything goes on the Third Planet: Rai. Reggae. Funk. Bhangra. Rap. The Unnamable. All doing the wild thing together in highly acrobatic embraces.

All the while, the shocked elders are seen vacating the village in unnatural haste, mounted backwards on donkeys staggering under the prior influence of water pipes expunging sweet swirls.

Sounds like a proven recipe to spend an hour? Circle the globe in a virtual music mobile that affords a highly unorthodox perspective on what can happen when multicultural seedlings are lovingly watered. Give Third Planet a spin around its off-center axis before the polar ice caps melt any further. My local Borders had another release by this fearless formation. I tucked it away in the New Age section hoping it would elude notice until I sampled this 2000 debut first.

Now that it has unequivocally proven itself to be a fresh but substantial take on the burgeoning WorldBeat phenomenon, I shall mount my own tired donkey, revisit Santa Fe as soon as possible and pick up the group's follow-up album. Unless one of the usually spaced-out New Agers somehow was home and beat me to the punch. In which case the clerk will have to part his dreads and look it up in the computer.


If you dig this genre as deeply as I do, the harvest right now is most plentiful and requires precious little, ahem, digging. I doubt that human history, amidst all the present political turmoil, has seen as monstrously creative a musical upsurge for millennia -- so intricately interwoven and cross-pollinated -- as what's currently happening in this arena. If Steven Spielberg's recent bleak visions of the future bear out, whatever creatures supersede us on this planet in its next evolutionary spiral will study our artistic records and wonder. How could a race this inventive and creatively inspired not be smart enough to map out its own survival?

Hopefully this group's name indicates that we're here to stay. And taking the pulse of Third Planet, chances look a lot better than you might think!