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MAGIC CARPET

Magic Carpet

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock


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philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
4 stars The progressive folk project of the Scottish innovative sitar player Clem Alford. First album originally published in 1972 for Magic Carpet records. A dynamic mixture of original folk inventions, psych-Hindu sitar gems and gorgeous, omnipresent, accentuated female vocals (Alisha Sufit). Lyrically all the album is about east mysticism, love, spirituality, time of Creation and others fairy tales. The music itself is dancing, poetic combining simplistic folk guitar motifs to raga scales. For me it's not as impressive as Alford's instrumental works, probably due to the acoustic and really British -sounding folk sound.however the experience is rather unique and remains one of the best evocations of natural, spiritual Hindu-folk experience in music. A soft psychedelic flavour is floating all along the album. I would prefer a more discreet, dreamy voice on this album. Hopefully there are many convincing instrumentals on the long, epic & transcendent "Alan's Christmas Card" or the more rhythmical & possessed "Take Away Kesh". In a few words, various introspective folk songs and frenetic raga improvisations.

In a minor way this is a classic and a must have for fans of prog folk's exotic side!

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#60919)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
oliverstoned
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This one-album band featuring fusion sitarist Clem Alford is in a pure Indian traditional vein. There's only a very slight western touch with few acoustic and electric guitar, but which remains very discrete, virtually imperceptible. The female vocals are rather pleasant and the compositions are spiritual and lively, providing a positive and soothing experience. This is really apart -even among the psyche folk genre- because of the purely traditional nature of Magic carpet's music (the "rock" dimension is completely absent), but this is worth getting into.

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Send comments to oliverstoned (BETA) | Report this review (#125937)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Well here’s an album that folks who are into the intricacies of modal tuning and alternative fingering styles and all that technical mumbo-jumbo that really serious musicians indulge in would have a field day with. Me, I just like the way these songs sound. Both types of music fans should have this (tastefully named) Clem Alford one-shot project in their collection.

The first time I heard this record I recognized the esraj bowing from an old Indian music record I picked up from the public library a while back. That led to an hour-long Google and youTube orgy of surfing that culminated in me sitting slack-jawed while watching some incredibly laid-back aging hippie in a seventeen minute video explaining all the subtle nuances of how to coax maximum effect from this hybrid sitar/violin-looking contraption. You can really gain an awful lot of marginally useful knowledge from the internet by the way, but at least now I have that experience to add to my repertoire.

A couple unusual things about this record, which is basically a Westernized version of a series of ragas. First and most striking is the introduction of Alisha Sufit on vocals. She has a very appealing timbre to her voice that fits amazingly well with the Indian instruments and raga arrangements, and she is present on almost every track. Second, Jim Moyes introduces a psych-leaning guitar element to the music that gives it the western touch and expands on the bent-note and percussive sound present in almost all Indian music. This is a really unique combination that is most evident on the instrumental “Alan's Christmas Card” and “Black Cat”. On the other end of the musical spectrum are tracks like “La La” and “Take Away Kesh” which are much more traditional-sounding compositions.

The CD issue includes a twenty minute raga cleverly titled “Raga”, an endless and wandering instrumental that is quite hypnotic and I’m sure represents a lot of technical virtuosity that is lost on neophytes, but it’s a great tune anyway.

This isn’t the sort of album that will appeal to a mass audience, even within the community of progressive music fans. But it is a very interesting historical piece, and a solid representation of the skill of long-time raga artists like Clem Alford and Jim Moyes. Alford and Sufit got together about twenty-five years after this released and put out a Magic Carpet II album which I haven’t heard but find it interesting that they managed to do that. I might add that one to my lengthy wish list.

Well recommended to fans of indo-prog and world music. This is a technical zeitgeist that came at the end of a period of time when Indian and western sounds were being regularly blended together to form really creative music. Four stars for being one of the more noteworthy of those again projects.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#166465)
Posted Saturday, April 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This group fusions to their sound both authentic Indian raga music and Western bluesy folk rock tones. For me the highlight of this album was the final nearly twenty minutes long raga, which is quite purist in its style, containing only sitar and tablas improvising together. This fact leads to a conclusion that the blending of these elements with psychedelic rock patterns did not work so well for me. However the album is quite lovely hippie artifact, and I admit my own adoration to the used concepts, however the end result would not be most optimal. The songs are quite short, not maybe exploiting totally the possibilities of the capabilities of stoned hippy freak-out territories, being quite simple from their structure and focusing to repetitive mannerism. There are also some fade-outs used in the songs endings, even in the long raga, which I found slightly sad solutions, leaving the musical progressions unfinished without goal, and leaving open questions did the tape ran out or did the musicians lose control in the end? Anyway, with the satisfying moments on the album, at their best these musicians created accessible, laid back and pleasant flower power musical patters. If you like Indian music and psychedelic folk, I think this record would be a good target to be checked out. The voice of the lady singer reminds both Grace Slick and the singer from the German group Carol of Harvest. In addition of CD reissue and rare original LP, the album has been reissued as limited edition LP also.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#207924)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Eetu Pellonpää is right about the fade on the bonus raga track on the reissue CD ? the end of the original tape recording got damaged, so the fade was necessary, in fact it was the only aesthetic way to end the track. The music is more collaborative, not really just a project by Clem Alford. Alisha Sufit wrote 7 or so of the songs separately from the band, but because she used ? and still uses ? modal tunings, the sitar was very compatible with her guitar work and in harmony with her arrangements.

So far from coming "at the end of a period of time when Indian and western sounds were being regularly blended together to form really creative music", Magic Carpet was recorded right at the beginning of the period, one of the first true blendings of eastern and western instruments in this style. Learn more at the band web site ? www.magic carpetrecords.com or listen at www.myspace.com/magiccarpet1972

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Send comments to Tifus (BETA) | Report this review (#227687)
Posted Monday, July 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars It seems like nobody likes Indo/Raga these days, not so 5-star ratings I see and when, it's only from reviewers. Well, anyway, this is my second venture into this genre and to be honest, it's more happy then the one before. This time, it's interesting. I'm sure that it's partly because of woman's vocal element, or beautiful melodies (is there a sitar ? of course, there has to be one) with not so variety in songs, but it possess even more important attribute. It's interesting and pleasant to listen.

4(-), I would recommend this as newcomers intro to this genre. Not so "different" to sound oddly for newbies and not so boring for those who know it for some time.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#245154)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a new type of prog rock to me. I am starting (and stopping ?) with one of the most accessible albums in this genre. Magic Carpet's only album.

Take away the indian music from this album and you have a Spiro Gyra/Fairport Convention like folk rock album. That is my conclusion from this album. Add the indian music to the mix and the music get a new flavour. The sitar and indian tabla adds this flavour. But the comparissons to some of The Beatles most Indian music inspired songs is pretty obvious too. The songs are pretty good, the title track is superb. I cannot fault the quality here. The music is pretty accessible and would probably fall into the prog folk category besides of being indo-prog. Listening to this album feels like eating a curry in a busy cafe in Glasgow, Scotland. It does not give me the full Calcutta flavour in other words.

This is a good album and it is a pity it has only got the recognition it deserve in the noughties (after the millenium). But I am not sure if I really have got the Indian flavour by listening to it.

3 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#255095)
Posted Wednesday, December 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The fixation of the genre concerning various music gives complete at the same time relativity. Especially, the history and the situation of music including the age might always have had establishment and groping as an expression method.

Music concerning the flow, traditional, and Folk concerning psychedelic gradually established in the especially 1960's develops rapidly in the latter half of the 1960's. Transmission concerning the expression method and the music character is various. The purpose besides the flow of diversity is enumerated in the situation and one of the bands that have already established it will be able to enumerate the existence of this band.

This band with the name that relates to the story of Arabia has been formed in 1971. If this band is guessed, some respects can be enumerated. Part of flow and diversity of psychedelic and Folk that is derivation as situation at that time from the latter half of the 1960's. The Music character that should already be expressed as a guess of the band is guessed to be possession.

The album that this band had announced might have given the listener the impression with a lot of mysteries as a situation at that time. As for the album, the part that exists in one seeing might also opaqued the career of the band.

Each member might be in an advanced point already with a purpose with this band if it enumerates it as a part of the guess for the music character. Alisha Sufit that took charge of the song in this band paid attention to the formation of the band with the element of Raga Rock. The participation of Clem Alford of the Sitar player who has various careers might be very important of course for the music character of this band and eminence. And, the communication of the intention by each member might have been attempted enough.

The part of the contract at that time was related to mushroom Records for this album. Point where album exists in one seeing for information on this band. It is possible to actually listen to this album comparing it easily now by the label that Clem Alford established. The situation and the existence at that time concerning the band will be talked about as attractive existence in the future. It is said that existence and the price concerning LP record were also valuable for the fan because the flow existed at that time.

Alisha Sufit took charge of Cover Art. The flavor of Raga Rock might be united well by the flow of Acid Folk with the age if it considers it as the overall music character. However, the impression of which the element of Acid Folk has gone out strongly a little might be given if it modifies one's views. The impression that piles up the flavor of Sitar and Tabla that joins the sense of unity is given. However, directionality concerning music and technical respect might be united very with stability. The existence of the band was actually handed down as a valuable band by the time this band was formed again in 1996.

The expression method and the introduction of machine parts are various if it considers it overall as a form of Raga Rock. However, the effect of an important part concerning "Drone" might be important as the nucleus of the band that fixes it besides the age. The part of Raga Rock exists surely enough in this band even if some diversity is considered. The part of Acid Folk is certainly united. However, the purpose and the expression tell Raga Rock of the tradition enough.

This album announced in 1972 is composed as all are original. Purpose of introduction of Sitar and Tabla that Alisha Sufit advocated. And, it is partial of the union of the music characters that each member constructed in union. And, Clem Alford exists. This album might be an album that exists completely attractively in the item of Raga Rock.

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Send comments to Kazuhiro (BETA) | Report this review (#282132)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Unlike many psych-folk bands which included influences from Indian music, Magic Carpet was not composed solely of earnest young white men expressing an interest in other people's cultures; the band was a true Anglo-Indian fusion, with several members being of Indian descent. This includes vocalist and guitarist Alisha Sufit, who was apparently the group's primary songwriter. As such, the inclusion of Indian music is not merely to add flavour to some Westerner's hippy ditty; instead, the album offers a true fusion in which the raga elements are equal partners in the music, not simply tacked on for the sake of exoticism. It's certainly an interesting experiment, though I do find that it lacks any really memorable standout tracks - the songs on here are all perfectly good, but none of them truly excel.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#490228)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars One of the more curious creations baked up in the slipstream of the 1960s obsession with all things 'Indian' - thanks George Harrison - Magic Carpet's softly-spun blend of East and West appeared on the Mushroom label during 1972, featuring a four-strong line-up made-up of both Sufi devotees and Folk musicians. Very much one of those albums aimed squarely at the 'alternative' and 'underground' student movements of the time, this self-titled effort features a roster of pretty-if-somewhat rather unexciting songs,with plenty of sitars, tambouras and tabla's adorning the album's basic acoustic sound. Somewhat tellingly, 'Magic Carpet' wasn't what you would exactly call a smash-hit, though a cult following has developed in the intervening years for an album that is, truth be told, a rather good companion to a low-key evening of herbal meditation if nothing else. Also rather tellingly, however, is the fact that the best track on the 1990's CD edition is the previously unissued closing track 'Raga', a sprawling, mystical Indian opus that crawls rather beautifully through twenty wordless minutes of chiming sitars and soothing tabla beats and was obviously far too long to fit on the original vinyl release. 'Raga' Apart, 'Magic Carpet' is essentially a fusion of both Indian and British folk elements stretched across eleven largely unmemorable tracks featuring the added bonus of Alisha Sufits highly-strung vocals. Opener 'The Magic Carpet' apart - the original album's sole highlight - there is very little that sets the pulse racing. Fans of traditional Indian music and more obscure folk offerings may be in for a treat, yet for most progressive rock fans there is precious that is magic about this particular carpet. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#820099)
Posted Thursday, September 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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