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Quintessence - In Blissful Company  CD (album) cover

IN BLISSFUL COMPANY

Quintessence

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.21 | 26 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Both this album and Quintessence's output as a whole has become rather dated over the years. Clearly riding the wave of enthusiasm for all things Indian that was inspired by the Beatles, the band's fortunes dried up at around the time that particular fashion did. Still, the group seem to have explored both Indian music and Indian spiritual beliefs to a significantly greater depth than many of their peers; a good many hippies of the era took a rather superficial approach to "Eastern" religions, and in the end of a lot of the cultural appropriation at the time comes across as simply another type of orientalism, a fetishisation of all that's "alien" and "exotic" about other cultures that ultimately comes across as faintly patronising.

Quintessence do not come across as superficial culture-tourists on this album; on Chant, for example, the Hare Krishna mantra is delivered with reverence and without embellishment or tampering. On the one hand, this does show an appropriate level of respect for the culture whose trappings the band adopted. On the other hand, it leaves the album a strange, patchwork affair - I mean, it's like a Christian rock band slapping a five-minute Gregorian chant in the middle of an album, it ruins the flow completely. At one point there will be a sincerely presented Krishna chant, whilst at other points there are flute-laden psych songs which come across a bit like early Jethro Tull cast-offs and the occasional sub-Donovan hippy-folk outing (Notting Hill Gate, the major single from the album, is an absolutely asinine song about how hip the neighbourhood the band lived in was at the time), and then at other points you'll get a psych rendition of some traditional Indian music. The album doesn't flow at all well - the different moods don't blend into each other so much and the transitions are just jarring - and the individual songs are pleasant but never much more than pleasant. Maybe Quintessence really were as sincere as they made themselves out to be, but whilst the sincerity is here the musicality isn't.

Warthur | 2/5 |

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