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Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ – Peter Gabriel

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Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ

(1989), 8/10
Passion is the soundtrack from the Martin Scorcese film The Last Temptation Of Christ. While Gabriel had dabbled in world music previously, this is his first full excursion, rooted in North African sounds, but using musicians from as far away as Ghana, India and New Guinea, and helping the careers of vocalists Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Youssou N’Dour. There’s plenty of musical input from Gabriel himself; while he rarely uses his voice, he’s playing percussion, bass and keyboard parts, and it’s the subtle collision of Western and African musical values that makes the record’s musical palette compelling.

While there are a few tracks that don’t do much more than make spooky background noises, there are plenty of truly memorable parts that make this one of Gabriel’s stronger albums, including the haunting flute in ‘Of These Hope’, the building tension of ‘The Feeling Begins’ and the piano melody of ‘It Is Accomplished’. The pretty ‘With This Love’ sounds like it comes from a Western church tradition, a link which the choral reprise reiterates. And a couple of the pieces rank alongside Gabriel’s best songs – the dramatic violin of ‘Zaar’ (based on a traditional Egyptian rhythm that was used to ward off evil spirits) and the majestic ‘A Different Drum’, where Gabriel’s voice soars after escalating tension from the percussion loops and Youssou N’Dour’s vocals.

Although it’s a soundtrack, Passion is an essential part of Gabriel’s discography.

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