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Chandrika Tandon

Shivoham - the Quest

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual release in so many ways. First, there is just the configuration of the set. We have three CDs along with a nice book all in a box. The thing is, the music could have almost fit onto one CD. The intent here was to split into the three movements (technically there is also an opening overture) and put each of these movements onto one CD of the set. The music itself is clearly progressive, but probably not rock music. That said, there are some moments that reach rock territory. This is more like world music, but it's not tied to one region. There is classical music here along with folk and other things. The end result is not far removed from a lot of folk prog. Chandrika Tandon is the main vocalist here, but there are many other voices included on this set. Some of the lyrics are in English, but many of them are not. All in all, this is a unique set that is compelling and intriguing. If you have an adventurous spirit, this is well worth a try.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.


Track by Track Review
CD One
               
Overture
         
Song of Beginnings

Voices open this with psychedelic music rising upward. From there we get a movement toward organic world music based folk prog. The lead vocals join with a beautiful world music sound. Other voices join after this first vocal section. The cut gets more layers of instrumentation added into the mix as it continues, leaning more heavily toward the progressive rock end of things. That said, the "rock" part of the equation is scarce. A flute solos before the piece drops way down again for the next vocal section. As it builds back out there are definite classical music elements over the top, but the main energy of the cut feels more closely tied to a progressive rock energy with a lot of world music in the mix. At some point after the five minute mark it shifts to full on progressive rock, albeit heavily infused with world music. That section takes the track to its closing segment where voices like those that started this end it.

Movement I - Yearning
 
Song of the Seeker

Rising up with mellow world music laced with the female voice, this comes in gentle and quite pretty. As this continues to explore they work through different world music textures in intriguing ways. I like the classical strings here quite a bit. There are vocal parts on this that bring it into something close to Gregorian chant. This piece never rises toward rock territory like the opener did.

Song of the Worldly Dance
World percussion opens this. Vocals come in over the top. For some reason this section reminds me of some of the stuff from Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album. From there it works out to a playful melodic section that has a lot of folk music with a bit of a rock energy to it. Bits of symphonic music are interspersed as this works forward. There are also tribal things here. This is such a fun number really. It works through by revisiting and reconfiguring the various sections.
Song of Yearning
Opening with a world music section, this works out to a movement that's closer to a world music based folk prog. The vocals are the most easily accessible to this point. There are definitely musical theater elements as it works to the chorus section. Later sections turn the world music elements toward more of an energized folk prog concept. The speeding up movement is classy.
CD Two
         
Movement II - Searching
                   
Song of Destruction

Mellower world music starts this cut. It grows outward with the first vocal section. As it shifts forward from there it gets more driving and rocking. By around the four minute mark it's really powerful. It drops from there for mellower sounds to move it forward. Then the rocking stuff takes over after that section. That more driving movement ends it.

Song of Compassion
Mellower world music starts this piece. The vocals come in over the top of that backdrop. It works to more of a folk music based thing at times. The world music still permeates it, though. It also drops to more pure world stuff.
Song of Surrender
Beautiful classical guitar opens this. From there it shifts to fast paced fusion with world music at its heart to continue. There is some particularly inspired piano work built into this cut. The symphonic elements bring a real power to it. The choral vocals that dance over the top are powerful, too. There are some sections near the end that are more closely tied to pure prog rock.
Song of the Teacher

I dig the world music vibe of this number. After the two minute mark it shifts toward more fusion meets prog type stuff. Some of the vocals that come across further down the road are the most jazz rock ones of the set. This is so classy and powerful. It works out to a revisit to the world music at the end.

CD Three
               
Movement III - Connecting
                   
Song of Light

With a sea of world music voices at the start, this drops to just piano to continue. The voice comes over the top of this mellower motif as this song is created. At its heart this piece merges the world music sounds almost perfectly with folk music. That combination really lands this in the vein of folk prog in my mind. It's quite a powerful and pretty piece of music.

Song of the Spirit

Intricate acoustic guitar is at the heart of the introduction here. It works out from there to something a bit like folk prog mixed with musical theater and world music. Much of the later sections here make me think of the type of thing Jon Anderson might do in his more world music based moments.

Song of Peace
Mellow world music is the central concept here. There is some pretty piano at times on this number. I dig the flute here, too. The wall of voices works well.
Song of Blessings
Sitar starts off this piece. The cut grows out with lots of vocals, percussion and more. They work it out to more of a bouncing folk rock vibe from there. It grows out to more of a rocking kind of thing from there.
 
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