Garbarek plays soprano and tenor sax, synthesizers, samplers and percussion here, and is joined on this two CD set by Bugge Wesseltoft, synthesizer and electronic effects, keyboardist Rainer Bruninghaus, bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Marilyn Mazur. A boys choir appears with Garbarek on "We are the Stars." "The Moon Over Mtatsminda" is done by Georgian singer/conductor Jansug Kakhidze with the Tblisi Symphony Orchestra. Garbarek doesn't appear on it, but he thought it would fit well with his work here.
Rites isn't going to surprise anyone familiar with Garbarek. He's an original musician, but hasn't evolved much over the years. His music is characterized by drones, repeated rhythms and a lack of harmonic movement. Nothing's taken at a really fast tempo. Garbarek performs with intensity, which is blunted somewhat in transmission by the fact that he's played like this so often in the past. He's been in the same place for too long, but if he hasn't evolved much up to this point don't look for him to start.