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Mah-Ze-Tar

Liquid Lotus

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an interesting set. I think arguing that it doesn't fit under progressive rock would be quite valid. On the other hand, there are enough space rock and psychedelic elements here to give the rock title to it. Then when you figure that it's essentially progressive folk with an Indian music basis, and it seems a solid fit to me. Whatever you call it, though, this really works exceptionally well. It feels traditional and exotic while also fresh and familiar. That's a hard balance to pull off, but it's nailed here. It should be noted that I've also reviewed one of the singles in this issue of Music Street Journal, and I've adapted this track review for use in that one for the sake of consistency. Most of the songs here have vocals, but only a few are in English. Honestly, you don't need to understand the words to enjoy this.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Maand
World music and psychedelia swirl around as this rises gradually upward. This instrumental is decidedly Indian in texture and works really well. This reminds me of the days when Indian music was a big part of popular music (remember Ravi Shankar played Woodstock).
Bhoopali
Nature sounds with some ambient world music makes up the beginning of this. Gradually more world music elements rise up and serve as the backdrop for the vocals. This is fairly mellow and quite pretty with lots of layers of sound at its heart. There are some space rock elements along with psychedelia in the mix at times.
Liquid Lotus
I love the lush and rich buildup at the start of this. There are some cool melodic vocals built into this. Some of the overlayers bring a definite space rock, prog edge to the proceedings. As it makes its way toward trippy progressive rock based stuff, there are vocals in English. This is accessible, energized and so cool. It works out to a cool instrumental section further down the road. Eventually they make their way back out to more stuff tied to the song proper to eventually take it to its close.
Cosmic Union
There is so much space rock sound built into this. Sure, it's all based around world music and more, but overall this is very much a space rock piece. The vocals are not in English. There are multiple layers of them. This cut has a number of shifts and changes and is just so cool. Some parts are more decidedly and purely world music based, while other things land somewhat firmly in mellow space rock territory. Then again, a lot of space rock sound comes from Indian music.
Yaman
There is a bit of an electronica meets modern prog and psychedelia vibe to this number. Yet it's still firmly set in the world music vein. It works through a lot of shifts and changes, and is quite an intriguing and compelling piece of music. At about eleven and a half minutes of music, it's also extensive.
Keshi
Trippy textures are combined with nature sounds and a floating voice at the start of this piece. It eventually works out to a slow moving and rather mellow, dreamy kind of exploration that takes it forward. This evolves by working through a number of transitions. There is a lot of space rock built into this number, too. At over twelve and a half minutes of music, this is another epic length piece. It ends with some acoustic instrumental soloing accompanied by the sounds of nature.
Folk Tune
While this is literally more purely world folk music based, there is still quite a bit of psychedelic, proggy texture in the mix. There is a good energy and vibe to this thing and it works through a number of cool changes. The closing section is quite proggy, but still fully rooted in Indian music.
Hamsa
At less than five minutes, this song seems rather short for this disc, but it would be a long number on plenty of releases. The same basic musical concepts are present, and this is another effective piece. It has more of a spacey psychedelic vibe in the closing movement, but a lot of the rest leans more heavily on the world music sounds.
Bilawal
Trippy music elements serve as the backdrop for an echoey spoken thing. There are weird processed echoes that come in after those elements. Some spacey world music climbs upward after that voice exits. This gets pretty intense and involved before it's over.
 
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