Peter Gabriel – Passion

Peter Gabriel has been tremendously influential in promoting musicians from around the world. His work with WOMAD and Real World Music has brought sounds of the world to millions of listeners, and even more significantly, to the ears of the world’s musicians. His music for The Last Temptation of Christ, a film by Martin Scorsese, mixes electronics with middle-eastern rhythms and instrumentation, fusing the elements to make music that is timeless.

Tremendous attention has been paid in the press recently to the movie The Passion of the Christ, which has turned out to one of the most ingeniously marketed films of the 21st century. Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ was controversial, but was a much more complex film. It didn’t get much mainstream attention and has been largely forgotten..

Gabriel’s music for the movie, however, has grown in stature with each passing year, because it stands as some of the greatest “world music” put to disk. Gabriel’s respect and understanding for non-western musical styles comes through with this work. He doesn’t use world music samples as an effect, or bring in a session player to add a tone color. Instead, Gabriel draws on the skill of some of the world’s greatest non-western musicians and creates music that often sounds like it could come from any time.

Percussion is very prominent in the compositions. A look at the list of musicians and instruments (below) shows an amazing number of non-western instruments. Also prominent is the use of non-tempered tunings. This gives the music an exotic feel, but also lets the non-western musicians play in the traditional temperments that they are so skilled at.

Many well-known world musicians make exciting contributions to the music. Shankar plays double violin in his unique style. Baaba Maal, Youssoo N’ Dour, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan all contribute fantastic vocals. Jon Hassel brings his “fourth world” style of trumpet playing.

The world influences are broad, but all work with the theme of the project. There are Middle Eastern, African, Indian, and Balkan influences, in addition to Gabriel’s European background. Though most of the music is drone-based, Gabriel also includes some homophonic choral writing that sounds a little like Bach’s choral work.

Gabriel uses electronics extensively and masterfully throughout the album. He uses Akai, Emulator and Fairlight samplers, Audioframe, and Prophet 5. The synth work is very well done. Gabriel uses synth sounds not to imitate orchestral sounds, but to fill the role often played by traditional orchestration.

The music of Passion is a wonderful mix of influences, technologies and styles. Gabriel’s soundtrack is one of the most important works of world music, and is a must-have recording for listeners with open ears.

Track listing

  1. The Feeling Begins (4:00)
  2. Gethsemane (1:23)
  3. Of These, Hope (4:05)
  4. Lazarus Raised (0:36)
  5. Of These, Hope (Reprise) (1:06)
  6. In Doubt (2:07)
  7. A Different Drum (6:05)
  8. Zaar (4:44)
  9. Troubled (2:46)
  10. Open (3:18)
  11. Before Night Falls (2:16)
  12. With This Love (3:36)
  13. Sandstorm (2:55)
  14. Stigmata (2:24)
  15. Passion (7:36)
  16. With This Love [Choir] (3:19)
  17. Wall of Breath (2:25)
  18. The Promise of Shadows (2:12)
  19. Disturbed (3:07)
  20. It Is Accomplished (3:30)
  21. Bread and Wine (2:23)

Total Time: 65:53


  • Kudsi Erguner / flute, Ney flute, Turkish flute
  • Jon Hassell / trumpet
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Qawwal
  • Baaba Maal / vocals
  • Peter Gabriel / synthesizer, bass, flute, percussion, piano, drums, keyboards, vocals, vocals (background), Whistle (Instrument), Surdo, producer, double bass, sampling, shaker, Fairlight, mixing
  • David Sancious / synthesizer, arranger, organ (Hammond), vocals (back ground), sampling, synthesizer arrangements
  • Fatala / percussion, percussion programming, African percussion
  • Shankar / vocals, double violin
  • David Bottrill / tambourine, engineer, slide guitar, mixing, Drones
  • Billy Cobham / percussion, drums, tambourine
  • Djalma Correa / percussion
  • Massamba Diop / talking drum
  • Nathan East / bass
  • Manny Elias / drums, Surdo, Octoban
  • Hossam Ramzy / cymbals, tabla, tambourine, triangle, Finger cymbals
  • Manu Katche / percussion
  • Youssou N’Dour / vocals
  • David Rhodes / guitar
  • Lakshminarayana Shankar / violin
  • Robin Canter / oboe, cor Anglais
  • Mahmoud Tabrizi-Zadeh
  • Antranik Askarian / Doudouk, Duduk
  • Mustafa Abdel Aziz / Drones, /ercussion programming, Arghoul
  • Vatche Housepian / Doudouk, Duduk
  • Doudou N’Daiye Rose / percussion, percussion programming
  • Julian Wilkins / vocals, choir, chorus, Choir Boy
  • Tabrizi Mahmoud Zadeh / Kemence
  • Said Mohammad Aly / percussion, percussion programming
  • Massamba Dlop / drums

Leave a Reply