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the Ceyleib People - Tanyet CD (album) cover


the Ceyleib People


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.77 | 17 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars While the cross-pollination of other cultures was the norm starting in the middle of the swinging 60s with a particular interest from the exotic and ancient lands of India where every celebratory and musician seemed to be in search of their spiritual guru of choice, many musicians jumped on this bandwagon and added the oriental sounds of sitars, tablas and other exotic instruments to their music in hope of finding that perfect bridge of cultures. While The Beatles opened the floodgates with George Harrison's contribution of "Within You, Without, You" on their hugely successful "Sgt. Pepper's" album, the trend actually began a few years beforehand and is properly credited to Sandy Bull who explored the drone guitar tunings in her folk music as early as 1963. By 1966 when the psychedelic scene was taking off like a rocket, so too did the cross-pollinating cultural musical fusion of world ethnic music with one of the primary interests existing in the Hindustani classical music of India which came to be known as raga rock or Indo-raga rock despite the fact that many of the artists who were engaging in this type of music didn't include much rock in the equation.

Amongst one of the earliest of these groups was the Los Angeles based THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE who only released one ridiculously short album called TANYET which came out in December 1967 and has one of the more exotic and memorable album covers of the era. When i mean short, i mean that this album consisted of two sides that totaled a running length of slightly over 23 minutes long which in modern day terms would be classified as an EP but despite the short length, this is actually one of the more interesting raga rock relics of the era which included a fledgling Ry Cooder who only recently got scouted out by Captain Beefheart to perform on his debut album "Safe As Milk." While many raga rock albums of the era tended to focus on droning or two musical words passing the baton to each other, on TANYET there is a true musical fusion of cultures that works out quite well. With an ensemble of ten musicians, the group consisted of traditional rock instruments such as guitar, bass, drums and keyboards along with the more exotic sitar (with 3 players), tamboura and even some woodwinds.

TANYET is roughly divided into two parts. "Part 1" begins more as a blues rock tune with Ry Cooper wailing away heavy guitar riffs that fade out and give way to the sitar and woodwinds and carries on for awhile as cosmic raga vibes permeate the sound and induce a hypnotic trance. After a while an almost Bollywood type melody emerges which allows the blues rock guitar to flourish alongside the sitar and percussive jams without sounding like each is competing for sonic domination. The symphonic counterpoints to the percussion become more detached and independent until the track suddenly changes to a woodwind and sitar duet but the symphonic keys return to echo the melody. Each part is subdivided into six subparts so they change the mood and dynamics as they transfer to the next. There are very few vocals on this one and towards the end there's even a Western classical outburst to end "Part 1" with a Paganini type of violin solo.''

"Part 2" sounds more like traditional raga music as it emulates a Ravi Shankar type of unaccompanied sitar composition. After a transition the blues guitar dominates with rock styled drumming but it sounds like a sitar is trying to adapt in the background and occasionally stands out. As the part continues the same general patterns where it successfully mixes up the Western and Eastern sounds which alternate and fuse randomly. In general sitars may introduce a theme or vice versa with blues guitars and the other side joins in to fulfill the melodic development. TANYET is somewhat of an obscurity but not super rare. The album was released several times and even on CD where it contained the album played twice with a different mix. The videos on YouTube are a mess as i really had to piecemeal the whole thing together to hear this in the proper order.

It was very much en vogue in the day to take popular music and do raga versions of them, but THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE did an excellent job of eschewing the cliches and conjuring up a nice multi-cultural mishmash of American and Indian sounds that work quite well together. True that the album does sound like a bunch of hippies of the era getting together to jam without taking the time to instill any sort of technical wizardry and production details, but personally that's what i find interesting about this type of music. It feels like a raw jam session that transports me back to an authentic feeling of a certain era. While the genre would continue on and would arguable peak with John McLaughlin's led Shakti in the 70s, THE CELEIB PEOPLE created a tiny but authentically sounding relic of the era that sounds exactly what you would imagine raga rock to sound like if you had never experienced it before.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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