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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti

Rakshasa

Review by Gary Hill

For the most part, being pure world music, the sounds here are quite organic and rather sedate. That said, there is still a decent amount of energy. Some songs are purely instrumental, while others feature vocals. This is an intriguing and entertaining disc that works quite well.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dhumaketu

Flamenco styled guitar opens this. Just that instrument alone holds the piece for a time, working through some different musical themes. Then other stringed instrumentation joins as it continues. The piece has elements of classical music and world music and is quite compelling and effective. This instrumental gets quite powerful before ending.

The Five Elements: I. Ether-Akasha
Psychedelia blended with world music serves as the backdrop for delicate female vocals. There is definite world music jamming later, too.
The Five Elements: II. Air-Vayu
There is a definite Asian element to the vocals here and the music lands between classical and world music. It gets quite intense at times.
The Five Elements: III. Water-Jal
This is seemingly quite connected to the previous number, but it’s much more sedate and stripped back. It’s also rather spacey.
The Five Elements: IV. Fire-Agni
More energetic, this has some great vocals paired with instrument jamming. I really love the fast paced riffing that ends it.
The Five Elements: V. Earth-Prithvi
This one feels in some ways more mellow. It has a rather dreamlike quality to it, though and manages to soar at times.
Swaramant
This piece is epic in terms of quantity, coming in at over fourteen minutes in length. It’s also a powerhouse cut that combines world music and classical in a smoking hot instrumental jam. There are more powered up moments and mellower ones. As one might imagine with a song of this size, it’s got considerable scope, too.
Anusvara - 6th Prism
While this is another epic piece, it comes in quite a bit shorter than the previous one (at least then ten minutes). The vocals on this are among the best of the set. This is quite an artsy sort of number with the classical music and world blend getting some space rock at times. There is a mellower movement that is eventually followed by a more crazed one. Then it drops back to the extremely sedate after that. There is one more powered up section at the end.
Svaranjali
World music with a healthy percussive element and plenty of melodic musical lines is the concept here.
Multani
Intricate fast paced jamming opens this thing up and carries it forward on one instrument for roughly the first minute. Then other instruments join and they work out into a more full arrangement of the same basic musical concepts. It gets quite intense for a time and then drops to very mellow sounds to continue. This is an instrumental.
Kahnu Marda Chandariya Chamka
The vocals return on this, a rather playful and somehow successful world music number.
Main Tenu Yaad Aavanga
Fairly mellow and organic, this is a nice piece of world music.
Shava Ghund Chuk Ke
Although it starts mellow, there is a lot of energy and charisma to this world music piece. Even though I don’t know what the lyrics are, or are about, I found myself caught by the vocal hook. That says a lot.
Rakshasa
Weird sound effects and backwards tracked elements are heard on the opening section here. Although later those elements become less prominent, they still remain. This is very much a psychedelic exploration that is built on world music.
 
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