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Jon Anderson - Toltec CD (album) cover


Jon Anderson


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3.42 | 89 ratings

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3 stars I feel like I'm missing something when I listen to "Toltec", as if it were the audio component of a multimedia presentation. Dialogue from Indian spiritualist "Longwalker", traditional Indian songs, bouncy and light originals from Jon, and instrumental bridges run together like the score to a film playing in the singer's head. The Toltec, as I understand it, are an ancient race of Indian magicians; at least that's what I remember from Carlos Castaneda. Drawn to magic as he is, ANDERSON becomes a willing mouthpiece for the movement, and (as the cynic in me would say) it's a little like inviting the Jehovah's Witnesses into your home. I do believe God's spirituality descends on earth in myriad forms, but the more someone tries to articulate it, the more of man's hand I see in the whole thing, and the less sense it makes to me. So, in listening to "Toltec" (or reading Castaneda, or sitting for a medium) it might pay to have a salt lick handy, since a grain just isn't gonna do it. Distilling the actual songs with vocals (which is what most people would expect from a Jon ANDERSON album) is near impossible; like Pete Townshend's Psychoderelict (a work very different in intent of course), the songs rouse you from a waking sleep induced by distant dialogue. And so the listener slips between two worlds: one of thought (making sense of Longwalker's arcana) and one of feeling (the uplifting and childlike music).

However, this tends to stimulate both worlds simultaneously, which is to Toltec's detriment: my brain finds the music too simplistic, my heart feels the dialogue is a distraction. As for the Latin American Indian element, this isn't the musical amalgam that Deseo was; despite the use of traditional songs (and the assimilation of folklore that would naturally accompany such an undertaking), "Toltec" isn't any more authentic to my ears than TANGERINE DREAM's Southwestern scores (Oasis, Canyon Dreams). The melodies are trite but the music isn't, swelled to a rich hue with exotic instrumentation that includes Charlie Bisharet (I'm pretty sure that E's an A) and familiar faces from Jon's recent work. Had the singer replicated the feel of "Building Bridges" across an entire disc, he might well have had another Deseo on his hands. Instead, Jon's critics are going to have a field day with this. I'll file "Toltec" under ambitious but unfocused, as if sections of Deseo and Earthmotherearth were incorporated into an anthropology class.

daveconn | 3/5 |


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