Saving the earth, one song at a time, is the driving force behind the well-meaning Gaia compilation.
Created by French songwriter and producer Alan Simon, the DVD/CD set features 350 musicians from all over the world. The line-up is impressive, including Zucchero, Cesaria Evoria, Manu Dibango, Midnight Oil, Andreas Vollenweider, Heather Small, the late Billy Preston, members of Fleewood Mac, Supertramp and the Moody Blues, Jane Birkin and actor Jean Reno, as well as a performance by the cast of the much-lauded South African stage production Umoja. It also features traditional Tibetan chants and instrumental interludes as well a snippet of Neil Armstrong’s voice when he landed on the moon in 1969.
Most of the songs are written by Simon, who reportedly dedicated three years of his life to the project and sold his song catalogue to finance it.
The purpose of the Gaia project Gaia is an ancient symbol for Mother Earth is to raise awareness about the potential environmental disaster facing the planet: There are billions of people who refuse to see their planet destroyed by the folly of mankind.
The CD is atmospheric but cliched it is really just another multi-genre world music compilation. It is a shame that modesty isn’t one of the featured tracks. Even humility places a distant second to the self-congratulating adulation on the DVD.
Saving the planet makes way for interview after interview with artists showcasing their sensitivity. The DVD never gives any real insight into the creative process behind the project, much less explores the problems the project hopes to raise awareness about.
The Gaia project includes a trek through the Himalayas and eventually a book and a film, as the creators earnestly entreat that we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children, a commendable sentiment. A booklet provides lyrics to the featured songs and comments by Simon about the background to the tracks, or how they were recorded.
Unless one is attracted by the featured artists specifically, there is little reason to buy this set. Otherwise, to support an undoubtedly excellent cause, one may be better served by donating money directly to environmental agencies.
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