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Quintessence - Epitaph For Tomorrow  CD (album) cover




Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.73 | 9 ratings

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4 stars If you're like me and you prefer your Indian music filtered through Western influences (a painful admission for an ethnic Indian to have to make, believe me!) then Quintessence is a band you must try. Perhaps inspired by The Beatles' flirtation with classical Indian music (Love You To and Within You Without You anyone?), this sextet of white Englishmen who went by the names of Shiva (lead vocals/keyboards), Raja Ram (flute), Mada Dev (rhythm guitar), Shambhu Baba (bass), Allan (lead guitar) and Jake (drums) formed in Notting Hill Gate in the late 60s.

Their blend of Hindu chants, breezy jazzy psychedelic-rock and the occasional electric guitar freak-out may not be strictly progressive, but it is innovative enough to appeal to anyone with an open mind. The two bands I keep thinking of when I listen to Quintessence are very different ... The Incredible String Band and Kula Shaker! It would be incredibly trite of me to describe Quintessence's music as a cross between the two, but it wouldn't be the most inaccurate description one could come up with, either. This compilation album draws its material from Quintessence's first three (and best) albums In Blissful Company, Quintessence and Dive Deep and does a great job of showcasing the group's charms.

The six tracks from In Blissful Company that kick off this compilation are probably among the best the group ever recorded. They include the masterful chill-out tunes Giants and Body (on which Raja Ram's flute generally steals the show), the gorgeous melodic acapella mantra known simply as Chant, the heavy rock of Notting Hill Gate (imagine a Black Sabbath riff played on sitar!) and an eerie, frequently barely inaudible piece called Midnight Mode that combines the three main styles of Quintessence's music.

After those six tunes there is generally a lot of repetition, as most pieces tend to echo what has come before. The highlights from Quintessence' eponymous second album (which was actually the group's biggest commercial success) include Only Love and the guitar workout that is St. Pancras (which does go on a little too long for my liking). I must say that I would have preffered to see either Twilight Zones or Sea Of Immortality from that album included here, although St. Pancras admittedly contributes towards offering a more well-rounded view of the band. The Dive Deep tracks that catch the ear are the jazzy epic Epitaph For Tomorrow and another mantra-based offering Sri Ram Chant.

Although Quintessence actually recorded five albums (the others are Self and Indweller) most of their best work was done early on and this compilation is very likely to be all that most of us will need. ... 73% on MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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