ANCIENT FUTURE: Natural Rhythms (Philo Records, The Barn, N. Ferrisburg, VT 05473) "Interspecies recordings" featuring the work of a human trio and a zillion frogs from Sonoma County, California and Campuan, Bali. The people play the instruments (sarod, flute, tabla, guitar, zither); the frogs do the vocals. I don't mean to sound silly -- the music is really good, but the most unique and immediate thing you notice is the frogs.
Ancient Future call themselves a "global fusion music ensemble." You hear a lot of Indian and Balinese (gamelan) influences here, in both the rhythms and instruments. The frogs come in because a popular belief in Bali is that kotekans -- pieces where two groups of musicians play alternate notes to form a melody line -- evolve from frog calls. And from listening to "Magic Rain" or "Valley of the Moon" it makes sense.
Fortunately the band has a sense of humor about themselves and their frog songs, as seen in some of the song titles; "Frogorian Trance," "Frogorian Dance," and "Frog Orient Trance," all featuring frogs on vocals, of course.
The danger of playing up the frog business is the album my come across as frivolous -- it's not. It's a very soothing collection of pieces, with some of them, such as "Hummingbird" complex and evocative. It's pretty respectable new age music. --Rebecca Brown
Typed by Cheryl Vega 6-12-95