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Shakti With John McLaughlin - Natural Elements CD (album) cover

NATURAL ELEMENTS

Shakti With John McLaughlin

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

4.09 | 94 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

BrufordFreak
5 stars This album was my introduction to 1) Indian music, 2) tabla/percussion master, Zakir Hussein, 3) the (then) young violin virtuoso who styled himself as simply "Shankar," and, believe it or not, 4) John McLaughlin. Just hearing the combination of all these amazing, exotic instruments (including/especially John's custom-made guitar) was (and still is) a mind-blowing experience, but hearing them play such complicated music with such tightness, and such melodic beauty has landed this album permanently in my all-time top 20. I still get goose bumps every time I hear "Mind Ecology," "Face to Face," or "Peace of Mind"--they are that good, that powerful.

1. "Mind Ecology" (10/10) blasts you away with its amazing sonic onslaught--which seems to beckon one to take up Sufi trance dancing (the whirling dervish).

2. "Face to Face" (11/10) is without question one of the most beautiful and technically stunning songs I've ever heard. McLaughlin's strumming, alone, takes one to another dimension! Music in absolute perfection!

3. "Come on Baby, Dance with Me" (9/10) is a lot like a brief jazz rondo piece where each of the instruments takes turns carrying the main melody line before gelling to repeat it as an ensemble. Amazing technical feat!

4. "The Daffodil and the Eagle" (8/10) feels as if some Indian musicians are laying around in the shade on a scaldingly hot day playing some lazy blues, then getting revved up, they take each other to task, first picking up the pace, then really sitting up and trying to out do one another. Very bluesy, very McLaughlin-like. Shankar really blazes on this one. Really fun!

5. "Happiness Is Being Together" (8/10) begins like something out of a Santana or South American song catalogue--a mariachi, perhaps? I get so mesmerized when John McLaughlin is strumming! Another Shankar showpiece. Or is that Itzhak Pehrlman? Wow! John, in turn, is so cool and at ease--and so Spanish!

6. "Bridge of Sighs" (7/10) slows it down to a very emotional pace with a very JONI MITCHELL feel. The space in this song is its most beautiful part, where its emotion really presents itself. The musicians get to show off their instruments' subtle dynamics on this one.

7. "Get Down and Sruti" (7/10) is the showpiece for Zakir Hussein--one of the preeminent percussionists of the past 50 years. It also introduces the vocalese call-and-response and rhythmic repetions that become much more prominent in future SHAKTI and even John McLaughlin works (especially their concerts--of which I have had the privilege of seeing a few).

8. "Peace of Mind" (10/10) is an absolutely gorgeous song which seems to truly capture the astounding Beauty of true Peace.

Bravo, Mr. McLaughlin and crew. Thank you for this album.

It is hard and beautiful to remember that this is an all-acoustic album and could, therefore, be repeated in concert without the aid of electricity. Something I can't help but think about in these dangerous times: What will my favorite musics sound like in a post-petroleum world? The musicians of India and artists like John McLaughlin, Mickey Hart, Ry Cooder have already provided us with some clues to what that might be like. But rarely with the combination of beauty, joy, and astounding virtuosity of SHAKTI.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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