Harem (ALBUM)
:: introduction : publication : tracklisting


The latest masterpiece from the Peterson-Brightman collaboration represents the singer's most significant change in style since Eden. Although the sounds of her contemporary-classical popularity can still be found on the new album, there is a distinct broadening of the tonal palette. Harem instantly impresses upon the listener the fact that great pains have been taken to make this one of Sarah's most ambitious and epic projects ever; a sensual oasis of music that draws on Arabic culture and influences. Despite being conceived by Frank more than two years ago, the album is imminently relevant and topical to today's current political climate. And so, sweeping orchestral passages are juxtaposed with Middle Eastern traditional instruments and ethnic voices, as well as a smattering of gorgeous Renaissance-style choral passages. Besides the incorporation of these new elements, the move to such exotic lands is also heightened by the discoveries one makes in each song. Tracks start in one style and then promptly change course, sometimes achieved simply through the inclusion of a soaring solo-violin section or special guest vocalist, but at other times it is far more dramatic. On no other track is this more apparent than with the opening title-song which halfway through, peels back the moody introduction that has developed only to spin into a synth-orientated club piece complete with traditional percussion. It is fitting that this happens so early in the album as it provides the listener with a good idea of the direction Harem will be taking. For alongside the live recordings of the kanoon, kawala and tabla players, is the welcome return to a greater use of electronic basslines, lead-synths and samples which have not been as prominently featured on a Brightman album since her earlier works like Fly. The album's depth and maturity are epitomised in the near 9-minute recording Arabian Nights, an epic rock-Arabian odyssesy consisting of five interweaving sections. 'Cover' versions like What A Wonderful World or Stranger In Paradise are drenched in the new album's mood, while The Journey Home and the touching The War Is Over serve to further elevate that mood. Until The End Of Time romantically finishes the journey we have just undertaken, leaving us inspired and fulfilled. Indeed all of this makes for Sarah's most uplifting album to date, with hardly any overly dark or ominous content (be it lyrical or melodic). Although the album is filled with highlights, It's A Beautiful Day would have to be the biggest. Besides being instantly accessible to a pop-audience, it so perfectly nestles Puccini-aria atop dance rhythms, dreamy basslines, aggressive Middle Eastern strings and an infectious English-lyric chorus: fans of A Question Of Honour will be enraptured! It is truly superb to see Peterson continue the Middle Eastern-pop style he demonstrated so expertly with Ofra Haza. The result is an album that once again furthers Sarah Brightman's musical canon in an exciting and unexpected direction. Reviewed May 2003


Release Date 9 June 2003
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:: TRACKLISTING (American release)
1. Harem
2. What A Wonderful World
3. It's A Beautiful Day
4. What You Never Know
5. The Journey Home
6. Free
7. Mysterious Days
8. The War Is Over
9. Miserere
10. Beautiful
11. Arabian Nights
12. Stranger In Paradise
13. Until The End Of Time
14. You Take My Breath Away