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Magic Carpet - Magic Carpet CD (album) cover


Magic Carpet


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.45 | 38 ratings

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4 stars Well here’s an album that folks who are into the intricacies of modal tuning and alternative fingering styles and all that technical mumbo-jumbo that really serious musicians indulge in would have a field day with. Me, I just like the way these songs sound. Both types of music fans should have this (tastefully named) Clem Alford one-shot project in their collection.

The first time I heard this record I recognized the esraj bowing from an old Indian music record I picked up from the public library a while back. That led to an hour-long Google and youTube orgy of surfing that culminated in me sitting slack-jawed while watching some incredibly laid-back aging hippie in a seventeen minute video explaining all the subtle nuances of how to coax maximum effect from this hybrid sitar/violin-looking contraption. You can really gain an awful lot of marginally useful knowledge from the internet by the way, but at least now I have that experience to add to my repertoire.

A couple unusual things about this record, which is basically a Westernized version of a series of ragas. First and most striking is the introduction of Alisha Sufit on vocals. She has a very appealing timbre to her voice that fits amazingly well with the Indian instruments and raga arrangements, and she is present on almost every track. Second, Jim Moyes introduces a psych-leaning guitar element to the music that gives it the western touch and expands on the bent-note and percussive sound present in almost all Indian music. This is a really unique combination that is most evident on the instrumental “Alan's Christmas Card” and “Black Cat”. On the other end of the musical spectrum are tracks like “La La” and “Take Away Kesh” which are much more traditional-sounding compositions.

The CD issue includes a twenty minute raga cleverly titled “Raga”, an endless and wandering instrumental that is quite hypnotic and I’m sure represents a lot of technical virtuosity that is lost on neophytes, but it’s a great tune anyway.

This isn’t the sort of album that will appeal to a mass audience, even within the community of progressive music fans. But it is a very interesting historical piece, and a solid representation of the skill of long-time raga artists like Clem Alford and Jim Moyes. Alford and Sufit got together about twenty-five years after this released and put out a Magic Carpet II album which I haven’t heard but find it interesting that they managed to do that. I might add that one to my lengthy wish list.

Well recommended to fans of indo-prog and world music. This is a technical zeitgeist that came at the end of a period of time when Indian and western sounds were being regularly blended together to form really creative music. Four stars for being one of the more noteworthy of those again projects.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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