2004 / Earthscape Media
Review by Michael Debbage
Johannes Linstead has been busy releasing exquisite compositions ever since his freshman effort Sol Luna Tierra back in 1999. While Mediterranea represents his first production away from his prior recording label Real Music, not a heartbeat was missed as Linstead once again quickens the pulse with this exotic offering. However, it is not necessarily all about celebrating but also about romance with an ever-expanding world stage.
The album opens with the well-paced and joyful "Andalucia" that comes with all the trimmings that one has come to expect from this artist. The nouveau flamenco guitar style is backed by pulsating percussion and countered by the sizzling violinist Vasyl Popadiouk. He was previously featured on Johannes' two prior albums Zabuca and Guitarra Del Fuego while here he is prominent on a total of four tracks. Skip forwards to the almost progressively influenced "Sangre Del Toro" that has Linstead and Popadiouk dueling it out. Along with the heavy use of castanets this track will floor you with its gypsy influences while sending you into a migrating whirlwind.
In contrast there is the tango influenced "Ambrosia" that repeats the Linstead frets battling it out with Popadiouk’s counter punches on the violin yet still remaining stylish as a tango should. Speaking of stylish it doesn't come much better courtesy of the elegant and lush "Adelita". This has to be one of Linstead's most obvious mainstream efforts with some very restrained but soulful guitar work reminiscent of The Rippingtons' Russ Freeman. Along with vocalizations of Genevieve Marchesseau the results are breathtaking sitting closer to the smooth jazz genre.
For those of you that wish to gear away from the mainstream aspect and fly away to faraway lands then the Middle Eastern influenced "Hour Of The Lamp" or the Cuban based "Motika" may be the appropriate exotic flavoring for you. Irrelevant of musical preferences the most ambitious undertaking is the closing track "Journey To Alcazaba". Clocking in at over 7 minutes, this epic opens with a very quiet passage, and then changes tempos several times to eventually crescendo to conclusion, finishing the album in fine style.
Sending us to the Mediterranean with several stops on the way, Johannes Linstead continues to remind us that many musical styles can still create a moving and solid cohesive musical listening experience. If this musical tapestry is any indication of Linstead's worldview then in his eyes, the entire world is a stage to celebrate and breathe life.
April 4, 2004
Review by Michael Debbage