Ravi Shankar has garnered enormous respect from the global community with his wide influence and unique Sitar playing. Although this release is not his earliest recorded work, it is perhaps his most iconic release to date as it was Ravi Shankar’s idea to spread his music to a western audience. Let’s take a listen to this album and see if it does achieve that indeed.
We begin with An Introduction To Indian Music which has some awesome Sitar playing and a calm, cool voiceover by Ravi Shankar about Ragas and Raga structure themselves. Both the playing and the commentary match each other nicely here, and Ravi Shankar’s introduction to the musical genre and a representation of what the music does here. It sounds really amazing all the same, and is a good and nice introduction to the music at hand, including the structure of the music. Really great stuff, and unusually different here.
The album then begins with Dádrá which is a 10 minute long piece. It gradually seeps through with Sitars and other Indian instrumentation. It sounds really marvelous, a great mixture of traditional Indian instrumentation here. Every note tells a story of sorts here, and is a sort of shred playing here which is incredible to hear. After a minute or so, Tabla drums enter and this piece gets really going. A wonderful and expertly played piece of music, this is really incredible to hear, even in the 21st century when a lot of the traditional musical movements have died out. Really awesome to hear, no wonder many Rock musicians picked up the Sitar, such as The Beatles guitarist George Harrison. The musicians here go at their own pace, despite being pros at what they do. Sitars are notoriously difficult for people to play, yet Ravi Shankar makes it sound like a breeze to play here. Nothing short of awesome here, each musician here plays almost telepathically, which is great. It builds up in energy and playing here, which is really cool. A wonderful and lively piece of music, this is a really great listen. Towards the end, the whole thing increases in pace and intricate playing. It sounds so energetic, and really awesome. The very end here is awesome, a grand finale to finish off an extraordinary piece. Brilliant.
Máru-Bihág is next, with an introduction which is useful to listeners, before the piece itself begins. It is gloriously good, just sounding really mint. It has some interesting playing on it, which is slowed down but rhythm driven. The playing here is memorable and different, slowly going into a piece with Tabla drums that is a straightforward, yet captivating listen. This is an extraordinary effort, with a very good sense of rhythm and melody intertwined here. Really great performance, this is uplifting and excellent listening. Really nice to hear, even if you are not a huge fan of Indian music. It keeps a steady pace throughout. In the second half, the pace picks up somewhat as the playing continues. Interesting listening, it is a powerful musical statement. A very great performance, the Sitar playing gets quite frenetic towards the end. It is simply a great piece to close one’s eyes and relax to. Excellent music from start to finish, it keeps a steady pace even during the complexity of the performance. Brilliant effort, it just sounds amazing and unique. Good stuff and a great listen from start to finish.
Bhimpalási comes next, which has a good introduction showcasing the tune ahead of us. The piece eventually gets going after the brief introduction, which has some brilliant opening notes here. The instruments gradually enter the scene, launching into an expressive and decent piece of music. It sounds super effortless, likely because in a way it is so. Really slow and tranquil, this is a really great listen from this album, showcasing the talent and diversity of Indian music. Very different and fresh, it is something of an oddity to have in one’s collection, but a necessity at that. The playing here is very spot on, and these guys must have been a hardworking unit as musicians. Excellent sounds abound here, this is a really cool piece of extraordinary and awesome listening. Different but interesting sounding music, you can hear the undercurrent pulsation of energy throughout here. A quirky time signature is towards the end here, and the playing sounds very unusual as well, with some expertly played double notes here. Brilliantly played, performed and executed, Ravi Shankar and co. show the musical world how its done. Towards the end are some super shred style playing here that sounds really awesome. Great stuff, a fine piece of music to hear. It ends quickly before you know it.
Last on this album is the 15 minute long piece Sindhi-Bhairavi which has a quick introduction to showcase the music ahead. It sure sounds good, from the beginning alone. Ravi Shankar plays some unique Sitar lines here, and we go into a territory unachievable from western based music. It sounds really incredibly good and different compared to what one is used to hearing otherwise. It sounds somewhat eerie, too, for Sitar playing. The mixture of Sitar and Tambura here is really excellent, mint and well thought out, it sounds remarkably different to anything else out there. Really spot on and excellently played, this is an awesome listen. Some semi-shred style Sitar playing eventually emerges and this piece gets kickstarted on its way. A really cool listening experience, eventually Tabla drums enter and this piece comes alive as a monumental Indian music piece. Cool sounds and playing are here, and this is definitely worth your time. It is great music for playing in the background at a dinner party or something similar, a really lively and incredible listen here. One wonders how much practice that would have gone into pieces such as these, these guys must have played 24/7 to achieve the sound that they have done so here. Excellent sounds, artistry and brilliance, it doesn’t get much better for Indian music than this. The playing here is wonderful and precise, and sounds as though it is largely improvised. Towards the end, it begins to increase in pace and tempo, which sounds incredibly different. Somewhat like the Indian version of classical music, it gets super fast and intricately played towards the end of this track here. Truly a brilliant piece of instrumental Indian music, it finishes up nicely with a super fast section here. Excellent work.
Although this album can only be really accepted as a listenable one if you dig traditional Indian music, this is a fantastic listen by Ravi Shankar that goes to show that traditional music indeed can have crossover appeal. Wonderful, energetic and different, this is something that one can hear from time to time and smile about it, knowing that the music on this album is awesome. Which it is. Great music, and a good introduction to The Sounds Of India.
Amazing traditional music.
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