Santanas Multi-Dimensional Warrior (released October 14 on Sony Legacy) is a double-disc collection of selections meant to emphasize the spiritual side of his music. The usual culprits - Black Magic Women," Oye Como Va" and Smooth" - are overlooked in favor of more obscure selections. What sets this compilation apart from the seemingly endless sea of Santana collections is that Carlos himself was intimately involved with the selection and remastering of the tracks. Calling this album a love letter to fans," the two discs are divided into one of instrumental tracks and the other with vocals. Santana includes new overdubs on five of the songs, adding guitar to Spirit" and Right Now," while band member Barbara Higbie plays harmonica on Praise" and Chester Thompson adds piano to Let There Be Light."
If you are looking for the counterculture sounds that made Santana famous, you may want to turn to your standard Santana greatest hits set. This album is full of '80s and '90s tracks, that are more pop influenced and at times teeter into easy listening or smooth jazz territory, though Santana's familiar guitar distinguishes these tracks with his distinct, signature sound. A living legend that's paid his dues as a musician, Santana has a pass to do whatever he wants creatively. Multi-Dimensional Warrior shows much of Santana's experimental work that many may not be familiar with and may have more appeal to a slightly older audience.
Love Is You" is off the instrumental disc and illustrates the easy listening sound mentioned. Synthesizers, sounding straight out of the song Dream Weaver," create a distinctively '80s atmosphere. Samba Pa' Ti" stands out on this disc as an exception to the mainstream sound and is the oldest track on this compilation, dating way back to the 1970 hit album Abraxas. The song is catchy with an Allman Brothers level of melodic jamming. El Faro" is another interesting instrumental with Spanish guitar that starts off sounding like a reggae jam. Spirit" is a solid pop song with a driving beat and positive message. A global message of peaceful change is found in much of Santana's work, and is vaguely reminiscent of Sun Ra's egalitarian worldview and revolutionary lessons.
Unlike some bands who make albums with variety but without continuity, Santana has an instantly recognizable guitar sound, regardless of the wide variety of styles and genres he explores. Multi-Dimensional Warrior is a pleasant album to put on and drift off to sleep or just let your mind wander off to. It can take you down a river of varying landscapes and textures, from '80s rock to pop to samba to flamenco.
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