Toby Marks is at it again! Another intriguing disk blending ethnic and techno into a mindspace of freedom and openness. Although I gave it a full five stars, I feel it really only deserves 4.5. The second disk lacks the powerful marriage of ethnic and modern sounds, and while satisfying, is not worthy of a full 5 points.
The first disk is an interesting meld of ethnic and electronic music. Disk two is mostly electronica. Both compel, and cannot easily be turned aside. I find that Banco de Gaia has blended a seductive mixture, which too often lures me away from my work and leaves me in a creative trance, communicating with the Kosmos.
Why "Last Train to Lhasa?" The liner notes say it well:
"In 1950 China invaded Tibet, a country the size of Western Europe. The Tibetans have calculated that 1.2 million died as a result of the chinese take-over. In 1959 the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his home and now travels the world gathering support for his people. The biggest threat to Tibet today is the hundreds of thousands of Chinese moving in and squeezing the Tibetans out. In 1994 the Chinese government announced that it intends to build a railway across Tibet to ease the way for even more settlers."
Imagine the *last* train to Lhasa. Imagine the Chinese leaving Tibet. This double CD set begins with railroad sounds blending into flowing synthesizer over a steady beat, reminiscent of a train clacketting along the rails, speeding over the steppes. Tibetan chanting voices fading in and out. Let the music carry you to a place where you envision the Chinese on that train. Leaving Tibet. Going home. Free Tibet!