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

NATURAL ELEMENTS

Shakti With John McLaughlin

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

4.06 | 93 ratings

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Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Admin
4 stars Waves like a daffodil, flies like an eagle

(A note to readers of my reviews, you will note a change in my reviewing style starting with this album) Indo prog is certainly known as the weird cousin to prog that no one really talks about, but is one of the most interesting of its family. Indo prog, as the name suggests is the fusion of Indian ethnic music with progressive music. This fusion makes for one very interesting sound, as Shakti, easily one of the more popular Indo groups, shows. With John McLaughlin leading the way in this quartet of musicians, the band paves an extremely creative path, with intense ethnic jamming contrasting mellow passages of melodic bliss, the album, Natural Elements, has no shortage of incredible atmospheres, feels, and themes to lean on.

There is no doubt the skill of these musicians either. Each song, the opener Mind Ecology especially, has an incredible sense of communication between each player, with an infectious jam feel throughout the music. The harmonies between McLaughlin's acoustic prowess and Shankar's violin grace is purely fluid, creating a sublime atmosphere for the album to dance in. The music rises into the upper echelons of sonic grace easily, flying like an eagle through the airwaves and filling the listener's ears with ecstasy no traditional music could accomplish. Easily one of the most inventive types of music out there, there really is no competition to achieve the excellence this album has. From placid pastures of sound like Face to Face to the jovial and lighthearted soundspheres like Come on Baby Dance with Me, the album has no shortage of dynamic pep and compositional genius.

Through all this fantasizing about the band's prowess, I can't say this album is a pure masterpiece. The music can get redundant and even at times dull. Of course, redundancy of incredible music is never a bad thing, but I would rather have more original music than more of the same. Away from this, however, there really are no flaws in this music. The band has woven a tapestry if pure joy; the aura of incredible sonic mastery that wraps around this album is purely sublime. It really is sad that the genre doesn't get as much recognition as some of the more popular genres, because it truly deserves it.

Of course indo prog isn't for everyone. Without a closer look and careful analysis, one could easily dismiss this music as weird, even when progressive music tends to be weird anyway. The lack of structure, outlandish instruments used, and the overall different sound the music has is not something that the average music listener expects from an album. However, these odd characteristics only heighten my infatuation with the music; the album really fleshes out the pure genius this group of musicians have.

In the end, I really can't stop saying how much I love this album. The amount of pure creativity put into its production is massive. The atmosphere of the music is sublime, with such an elevated sense of sonic grace bringing this album into the wind with fervor. Sonically, the album truly does wave like a daffodil; in the wind it sways with a beautiful grace, acting like a flower kissed by the breeze. It flies into the atmosphere with the power of an eagle; there is no doubt in my mind the power these musicians carry in their instruments, with intense skill going into rapid solo sections complimenting the slower, more mellow and graceful sections of other sections. Overall, this album is incredible, and although it has very minor flaws, it is very highly recommended. 4+ stars.

(I would love to get feedback on my new style; PM me if you have comments. Thanks!)

Andy Webb | 4/5 |

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