Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Shakti With John McLaughlin

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakti With John McLaughlin Natural Elements album cover
4.10 | 139 ratings | 19 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mind Ecology (5:48)
2. Face to Face (5:56)
3. Come on Baby Dance with Me (1:57)
4. The Daffodil and the Eagle (7:01)
5. Happiness is Being Together (4:27)
6. Bridge of Sighs (3:52)
7. Get Down and Sruti (7:01)
8. Peace of Mind (3:21)

Total Time: 39:39

Line-up / Musicians

- John McLaughlin / acoustic guitar, vocals, producer

- L. Shankar / violin, viola, vocals
- Vikku Vinayakram / ghatam, nal, kanjeera, morsing, vocals
- Zakir Hussain / tabla, timbales, bongos, dholak, nal, triangle, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: John Alcorn with Paula Scher (design)

LP Columbia ‎- JC 34980 (1977, US)

CD Sony Records ‎- SRCS 7016 (1991, Japan)
CD Columbia ‎- 489773 2 (1999, Europe/US)

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry


More places to buy SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN music online

SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Natural Elements ratings distribution

(139 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Natural Elements reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars « Natural Elements » is Shakti ultimate masterpiece. John Mc Laughlin shows once again his determination to bring jazz rock guitar on new territories. The Shakti ensemble is only composed of Indian musicians (tabla, violin players). Mc Laughlin is accompanied by L. Shankar for all compositions' writing. The project is entirely acoustic, dominated by fast, technical, very talented Laughlin's guitar style, often in trio with eastern violin parts and repetitive, awesome tabla sections. The first track of side one is an incredible, furious rhythmical composition, an eastern "trip" with "trance" like effects. "Face to face" is a perfect duet mixing different violin / guitar contrasts. A brilliant, technical improvisation. An "eastern" modern jazz combination with possessed tabla parts. Composed by Shankar "come on baby dance" is an other improvisation with colourful raga elements. "The daffodil & the eagle" is an enthusiastic ballad with folk accents and enchanting violin passages. The second side is less impressive (technically speaking) with large, calm pieces with my exotic guitar rhythms and vocals ("happening is being together"). "Piece of Mind" is a peaceful jazzy ballad with detached guitar / violin parts. Quite beautiful! An original effort that can only enrich your CD collection.
Review by FruMp
3 stars An interesting albeit fairly one dimensional experience.

I got this album expecting some kind of jazzy spaced out world experience, unfortunately it did not deliver. Natural elements is an interesting piece of music though, melding the jazz fusion stylings of John Mclaughlin with indian raga and world music however in my opinion it is fairly flat and after the first song pretty much all the territory that will be covered in the rest of the album has already been covered aside from the fairly psychedelic 'bridge of sights' and the mellowed out 'peace of mind'. That said it is fairly satisfying if you're in the mood for such things, the percussion great for example and is the main driving force of the music and it makes fantastic background music for a lovely indian meal.

Recommended only to fans of world and jazz fusion.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third (and final) tome of a trilogy, Natural Elements is still recorded with the same quartet, but this time in a Switzerland studio in July 77. This third album is the least known (or at least rarer), but finally, we have a Shakti album with an evocative artwork, even if it looks more like a Japanese engravings theme, than Indian. Their last album is their most varied one to date, consisting of much shorter tracks (8 instead of 3 in the s/t), with Mc using a bit of electric guitar and percussionist Zakir Hussein using a wide array of non- Indian instruments.

Right from the first wild runs/bursts of instruments on Mind Ecology, you know Shakti has again progressed compared to previous albums, as the Indian classical music is now only a tool and not a means or a finality: This track is closest to Mahavishnu Orchestra than Shakti (well almost, anyway)!! Face To Face is a great (I'd almost say excellent) raga-lead adventure throughout western lands and their musical realm. With Come On Baby, Dance With Me, you can feel that Carlos Santana did manage to influence Mc (even if credited to Shankar), because the track has a definite Latin feel, dare I say even a tad of Flamenco into it. Daffodil is maybe the most unfocused track on all three albums, as it roams from Beethoven-type to Far-East-style of music. While a very impressive track (this is a mini tour-de-force of songwriting), it sounds simply too cliché and is too obvious in its demonstration willingness.

On the flipside, there are the fairly cringe-inducing track Happiness (violin is painfully high-strung and some poor a capella choirs, amongst other flaws) or the conventional Indian classical track Get Down. But on the other hand, Bridge Of Sigh is a very pleasant track (not coming close to Robin's track, though), hanging on raga beat to keep the Indian element, while the melodies sound anything but Indian, except for its tabla solo. The closing Piece Of Mind, a calm duo between a squealing violin and guitar strumming, is clearly Shakti's Chant Du Cygne (but without the fat lady singing ;o)) and a fitting outro for the band.

For non-purists, clearly Natural Elements is Shakti's most interesting album, the one where Mc's original goal of fusion between Western and Eastern music realms works best, but overall the Indian roots are still present but not quite as overpowering as in the debut album. .

Review by obiter
4 stars This review comes from a standpoint of confessed ignorance: I have no knowledge of Indian music.

Mind Ecology bursts with frenzied exuberance and yet it has a mesmeric repetetiveness. McLoughlin's playing is superb. face to face provides another virtuoso performance from McLoughlin. Apart form the superb acoustic playing of McLoughlin the underlying complexity and beauty of the rhythms is the most striking feature.

Come On Baby has a different vibe. As with all the tracks on the album, there is a very tight integration of the guitar, violin and percussion. The percussion follows the lead far more than would be the case with western music.

The daffodil is quite bitty: some passages are excellent although at times the violin sounds a bit screechy for my ear.

The music is intense and complex. At times I find it all abit too much. I realise this all the more when the tempo drops the intensity abates and there is a moment of relaxation. I reckon my reaction is probably due to ignorance and lack of exposure to this genre.

Happiness is an easier listening track. Lots of extremely fast guitar work (as we expect from J McL) and more particularly screechy violin. This one sounds a bit more western with only a smattering of Indian influence.

I love Bridge of Sighs. It has a groovier mellow swing to it. A pleasant break for my ear. Get Down has a slightly more upbeat rhythm and one that is again easier to my western ear. Not a great deal happens here but there are some lovely intricate percussion breaks at one point with an extremely quick and intricate vocal style which follows the percussion. Not to be missed.

Peace of Mind rounds off the album. It is the mellowest track by some margin: romantic in style and dare I say it very calming and peaceful: does exactly what it says on the tin.

This is not a genre with which I am familiar but that said I would have to recommend it to those like me who are dipping their toes in: you really have to give this one an listen and decide if it is for you.

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars Weird, Acoustic, Percussive, Mediative, what else?!

Natural Elements is one of a kind, well surely Indo Prog is one of a kind actually. Natural Elements brings you a whole different view/perception of what you thought Prog was about, with percussive instruments of the east side of the world, with a lot of mood variations and virtuosity to pull out the trigger for those McLaughlin lovers.

Impressive percussion goes for the following songs: Mind Ecology with it's unique percussive climax, John's acoustic virtuosity and L. Shankar's dissonant/beautiful violin, demonstrates a new side of John, as well as the already mentioned, new side of Prog. Definitely Mind Ecology is one of the album's finest songs.

Face to Face shows a mellower band, still with L. Shankar's violin which can hurt after a few dosis, you have another very impressive, though different, rythm section which really is what this song is about along with John's mellow guitar(acoustic) chords, which are impossible to get bored of, with such energy full-filled in them(the chords). The song besides from the instrumental cleverness, has a very mediative feel to it, which makes the song unique, as well as being another positive aspect of the song.

Indo Prog Rocks?: Well The Daffodil and the Eagle apparently says yes. While no electric guitar, nor drums, nor nothing from the Rock realm, the song has a bluesy rock feel to it, in which develops to some type of Mahavishnu sort of song just in Indo Prog format. Having shocking guitar solos, with a melodic violin throughout the song, and a very reliable rythm section which changes constantly depending on the tempo of the guitar solo or violin.

Calm and Beautiful: These tags are won by Bridge of Sighs, with a gentle rythm all through the song(no kidding) with a ''stay-in-tune'' violin(believe it or not) creating some oriental-flavoured melodies, finally with John's mightiness on the acoustic guitar, though in this song each note/chord are totally delightful, rather than the typical fiereful and frantic solos like in general, while being impressive, they don't bring the kind of impression as in this song does.

Peace of Mind also wins those tags, and I think those tags suite even better with this one. A wonderful ending, soft, magical, as well as emotive. Like the first notes of And You and I or Turn of the Century by Yes, John and L. Shankar create the word BEAUTY with this song(musically). There's no percussion, so the climax is completely calm to create such magical essence, which will soon dissapear because the song only lasts 3 minutes, still they're sufficient to make you cry or at least feel such emotive energy run through your veins.

As the first word of my review, WEIRD. A weird album indeed, through frantic acoustic guitar runs to percussive enlightment to odd melodies of the middle-east to emotiveness. A completely eclectic album on the moods side.

John McLaughlin shows you once again that he's one of the most versatile guitarists around. Honorable mention to the highly impressive unique percussion section of T.H. Vinayakaram and Zakir Hussain. L. Shankar's violin as I already mentioned, is not a easy listen, still worthwhile at many times, specially on the last song of the album.

4 stars. Want to know what Indo Prog sounds like? Without doubt pick this up.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Virtuosic Jazz / Traditional Indian Fusion

I recently discovered that a fellow parent at my daughter's school was an old prog-head. Not a musician himself, he described trying to find the most out there music as a point of pride. So we traded back and forth band names, and his stumper was Shakti. I had actually downloaded this album about 6 weeks before. Before visiting this site, he would have had me. His descriptor for the album was intense and indeed if you're not used to the virtuosity of traditional Indian music, this is a shocking music. That John McLaughlin fits in seamlessly and that all of the other musicians are at least on his level tells you just how amazing these players are.

The first half of the disc is firmly rooted in the Indian tradition, and the first song (Mind Ecology) is perhaps the most intense of the entire album. Extremely fast sixteenth note tabla drumming, syncopated acoustic rhythm guitar by McLaughlin, slippery violin trading between wailing and shredding, all combine to form a treat for musicians with a taste for a showcase of musicianship. And yet these players are doing more than just showing off their chops. This is a complete music with memorable melody, grooving rhythm, and plenty of variation in emotion.

I've listened to a bit of traditional Indian music in the past, and acoustic guitar is not an instrument that immediately makes sense for this context. However, McLaughlin blends in perfectly, developing slide and bending techniques to match a sitar-style phrasing in addition to his rapid fire runs that evoke both flamenco and jazz. On the other hand, the rhythm guitar reminds me of solo acoustic players in the Windham Hill lineage, though with some added intensity.

The second half of the disc explores a wider variety of styles, with track 5 (Happiness is Being Together) starting with a Chelsea Morning-like riff and then settling into what actually feels like Caribbean island music. Track 6 is one of the stranger renderings of Bridge of Sighs you'll hear, though it's still very beautiful. Track 7 gives the percussionists a chance to show their full range, including the Indian rhythmic vocal style which sounds like insane beat boxing. The album ends in a ballad-like piece that is much slower, less showy than the rest of the album.

This is an excellent album to introduce someone to Indian music, as there is alot going on and the guitar is a familiar voice to anchor you ear to. I don't know that it has much to do with rock other than its intensity, but it is certainly progressive. A great example of fusion, a great showcase of virtuosity, and as my friend told me, a great album to get your heart pumping.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars It was likely to have executed it with the huge influence especially partially of the music character that John McLaughlin was spent in the 70's in the 60's and done positively for the item of Jazz and Fusion. Some common denominator might exist for a lot of works and the performances that he was related since it works with Miles Davis. If he however considers it as directionality of Music at whom oneself should aim, it might be understood to consist the idea that he exactly is always involved. It is thought that the nucleus of the music character that he expresses while the form of music is advanced attended with some revolutions is always advanced attended with the universal element.

The expression that he had done for the item of Jazz/Fusion that had rushed into in the 70's method might have had a reformative part. The deriving flow from the music character that Miles Davis had advocated might certainly have had the influence also by other musicians. He was challenging music from all angles in the flow that Jazz and Rock fuse gradually attended with the age always attaching importance to the nucleus. And, his universal element will have the part expressed with a consistently unspecified element. It is not a translation to which Jazz took Rock. It will be able to be said exactly that it is a moment when various elements that John McLaughlin had in the flow that repeats the derivation, dismantlement, and the restructuring of music approached the field of Rock a little.

The existence of Mahavishnu Orchestra was one of the methods of expressing the music character to which he was exactly involved in him. This directionality and the music character might have indeed shown his one-space existence. Of course, one existence was shown in the item of Jazz/Fusion. However, the idea and the nucleus that he had might have contained the element because of the connection to this Shakti consistently. There was a theory said that the unhappiness that happened to his family led to the formation of this Shakti according to one theory, too. However, the theory is not certain. Existence of Sri Chinmoy said meeting in 1970 as well-known fact anyway. And, the thought of India that he was devoting himself always at that time and the element of the philosophy. These elements might be certainly reflected in the work and consist as a theme of Shakti. However, his universal element and challenge are contained everywhere in the music character that he was doing with this Shakti.

Especially, if the composition of this album is considered, the introduction of the tune in which diversity exists a little more in the flow of the work that current Shakti announced might be given. All the parts that do not apply to the frame in India either can discover diversity as a composition of this work. The element of Mahavishnu has the part where this Shakti is certainly followed. John McLaughlin will be able ..flow that reaches the album.. to be caught as one of the results of putting out.

As for "Mind Ecology", the guitar twines round the flow of Chord with a complete anacatesthesia with the melody of Violin. The rhythm of the percussion instrument repeated at high speed contains the sound of a complex decoration and it progresses. And, a technology overwhelming Solo of Violin is offered to the listener.

As for "Face To Face", the element of meditation and the thought that flows incessantly might be reflected in the tune. Melody of Violin with anacatesthesia. And, the height of the composition power of Chord by cutting of the guitar. Ensemble constructs a good flow. Intermittent construction of melody and part of Solo of guitar. The power quietly opened continues.

As for "Come On Baby Dance With Me", the melody of a bright unison with Violin and the guitar is impressive. The construction of the technology and a complex melody might be splendid. A certain kind of sense of relief might be included as the entire impression of this album.

The element of the music character of Shakti and directionality might appear remarkably exactly in "The Daffodil And The Eagle". Their theme and thought are reflected. The extension and the idea of width as the technology might be expressed with room. The expression of the melody and the percussion instrument developed one after another expresses good thought and expression of feelings. And, the expression with the guitar has expanded width. It is exactly expressed partially of the music character that John McLaughlin thinks about. The expression not devoted to the theme and the frame method types out a good flow and directionality.

"Happiness Is Being Together" starts by a sound of Triangle and a high-speed percussion instrument. The rhythm and the melody of Latin that took it partially of the diversity of this album decided the impression of the tune. Composition of overwhelming Solo of Violin and bright melody. And, it is partial of the chorus who twines in the shape along the impression of the tune. It might be exactly an expression of the music that John McLaughlin created as uniting.

As for "Bridge Of Sighs", the melody of the theme is impressive. A peculiar melody to the rhythm that flows slowly twines. It might be an expressed melody as a part of the diversity of the album. The performance of the member intermittently expressed gives good construction. The part of the unison and the repeated mysterious melody by all members have a good flow. Ensemble is overwhelming.

The theme of "Get Down And Sruti" that is a little reminiscent of the directionality of Mahavishnu Orchestra is impressive. The element of Rock is taken a little and Groove is produced. This tune might also expand the width of the music character of Shakti. Part of guitar expressed by cutting. And, the melody of Violin that always decides the directionality of Shakti. The expression of the music that doesn't apply to the frame is exactly given. The tune places Solo with the percussion instrument and continues the quality.

As for "Peace Of Mind" that decorates the end of this album, the melody of gentle Violin and the melody of the guitar are impressive. The thought of Shakti that flows incessantly is expressed attended with a beautiful melody. It is a tune that the parts of a few ballade unite with the theme of Shakti. This tune expressed only by the guitar and Violin might have made a good flow as a composition of the album.

This album was announced and Shakti hid the shadow. However, the expression of thought and the philosophy done partially of the expression of the music character of John McLaughlin might have included a complete expression by Shakti indeed remarkably.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Well I do prefer this studio album to the live one they released the year before. Man this is impressive. It's hard to believe this is all acoustic because they play at such a fast pace at times with lots of intensity. And also we get all these intricate sounds from some instruments I haven't even heard of before.The guitar from McLaughlin, violin from Shankar and tablas / percussion from Hussain are the focus though in our carpet ride over India. Mind- blowing stuff.

"Mind Ecology" is an amazing start as we get hit with this intricate yet powerful sound.Violin to the fore after 2 minutes. So much going on here. "Face To Face" is another favourite as it opens in a pastoral manner with sparse sounds. It kicks in with percussion and guitar before a minute with violin coming in quickly as well. "Come On Baby Dance With Me" has lots of tablas and percussion.This sounds so cool. Guitar and violin also help out in this intense track. "The Daffodil And The Eagle" is more laid back. I like the guitar and percussion sounds after 2 1/2 minutes. So impressive. Lots of passion here too.

"Happiness Is Being Together" is percussion and violin led early.The violin is almost screaming 1 1/2 minutes in. Some vocal melodies follow bringing SANTANA to mind. "Bridge Of Sighs" is where they get room to actually breathe. "Get Down And Struti" opens with percussion but the guitar and violin join in quickly. Percussion is more the focus here though. Some vocal expressions after 6 minutes. "Peace Of Mind" is the mellow closer with guitar and violin standing out.

This might be the best place to start if your thinking about Indo-Prog.

Review by Andy Webb
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!)

Review by admireArt
5 stars A balanced performance that goes beyond the "exotic", this, as mere MUSIC (without tags), is awesome. The indo-raga/prog element is pure in its source, and yet, the song writing, kidnaps the whole experience fom its limits (as all tagged things suffer of) with sheer genius. All the musicians are top players, close to virtuous, but they are too professional, to exceed or pretend to be "main characters" in the process of creation. This by turn makes it unrepeatable, unique and an unforgettable audiophile experience, and it all has to do with music composition.

John McLaughlin's restrains himself from his natural "speed", in able to follow Lakshminarayana Shankar's vioin or viola, and it turns out to be far more interesting without it. He displays one of his most perfected acoustic performances. Of course, this is all due to the fact that L. Shankar's performance is impeccable, and most of the time he delivers the "wild' and "spiritual" side of the album. The percussive side runs like magic with Zakir Hussain and Vikku Vinayakram and both alongside Shankar are the vocal section of the ensemble.

Since this album appeared in my Prog/collection, I have not found something so free of its roots without losing its own identity. To be so Prog, without the obvious instrumentation, I insist, has to do with the undercovered side of music composition, therefore the instant connection to any kind of ears, more if they are "Prog" or "World".

Still waiting for something more from Shakti in this kind of genius level. *****5 PA stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars The second studio album by SHAKTI pretty much picks up where "Handful Of Beauty" left off. It is basically a refined version of that album with the same layout of fast to slow tracks, however on NATURAL ELEMENTS everything the band did very well before is played perfectly here. The stars aligned and so did the musicians becoming comfortable with their daring and cutting edge indo-raga-prog-jazz-fusion collaborations. The call and response between instruments is impeccable, the songwriting is more interesting and there are more instruments to be heard as well adding extra layers of richness to the experience.

John McLaughlin sticks to his lightning fast acoustic guitar but Zakir Hussain adds more percussion instruments to the mix, Lakshminarayana Shankar picks up viola as well as violin and Vikku Vinayakram the ghatam and kanjeera to his percussion mix. The result of all this is that the band hasn't shifted gears and headed into new directions but simply refined the sound they had already mastered into musical perfection. I find this to be a perfect album. Every song is extraordinarily well-crafted and the album goes by too fast unlike the previous one that had parts that dragged on a bit too long. A huge hit in my world.

Review by Epignosis
4 stars For those who appreciate the skillfulness of Jean Luc-Ponty, seeking out Shakti is a must. Strictly speaking, and despite the Indian percussion, there are distinct stylistic characteristics from all over the world present, including Cajun, Irish, Caribbean, and Chinese, even though the entire album is tonally static. Everything present in this album is agreeable and consistent.

"Mind Ecology" Frenzied and technical guitar and violin race to keep up with the harried percussive instruments. The harmonies are staggering.

"Face to Face" Abandoning the wild abandon of the previous piece, John McLaughlin provides graceful strums to accompany an elegant, silky violin. Midway through it adopts the character of an Irish jig.

"Come on Baby Dance with Me" The title is appropriate, given the nature of this upbeat and sprightly caper.

"The Daffodil and the Eagle" One of the most industrious pieces, this alternates between rapid-fire guitar phrases and almost New Orleans-like slippery fiddling.

"Happiness is Being Together" Once again, McLaughlin takes to hammering out the rhythm while Shakti ascends to the farthest reaches of the neck and spirals back and forth all over it. Cheery vocals make an appearance in what sounds like a background music for a Caribbean cruise ship.

"Bridge of Sighs" Exploring a sullener style, "Bridge of Sighs" is occasionally folksy and occasionally bluesy.

"Get Down and Sruti" Alternating again between open, respiring rhythm and swift passages of guitar and violin, this piece keeps returning to a very happy theme while closing with rapid vocalizing.

"Peace of Mind" The album concludes with its most tranquil offering.

Latest members reviews

5 stars "Surely music is the greatest thing in all of creation" is the statement that I kept coming back to while listening to this album. I would listen, my mind would wander, but always, repeatedly, I came back to that short phrase. But the music doesn't make you want to sit back and watch; it makes ... (read more)

Report this review (#298948) | Posted by Earendil | Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I should preface this by saying this is my first experience with the indo prog/raga rock genre and Indian music in general and only the second band I have heard that isn't from Europe or North America (the first being Koenjihyakki). With that in mind I have to say I have to say "Natural Elements" ... (read more)

Report this review (#241342) | Posted by TheCaptain | Friday, September 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In my mission to conquer all the subdivisions of prog listed on ths sight I bought this album listed as Indo- Prog/Raga Rock. I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard: A group of talented musicians successfully fusing Western and Eastern traditional music. 'Mind Ecology' is simply wonderful. ... (read more)

Report this review (#169193) | Posted by burtonrulez | Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Actually it's 4.5 Here we have the famous John Mclaughlin teamed up with three outstanding Indian musicians fusing jazz with eastern folk and various other elements to create some incredible and intriguing music. All instrumental!!. Mclaughling (guitar) and Shankar (violin) are always at the for ... (read more)

Report this review (#138984) | Posted by Hans | Tuesday, September 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I can describe the music in one word to save you time - beauty. If you want 4 words - Beautiful work of art. The musis is pure and a genuine effort. L. Shankar's violin shines throughout, and the intricate melodies that he plays can sometimes melt your heart. The album has various moods. "come ... (read more)

Report this review (#52667) | Posted by | Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Really impressive! I just discovered this album and I sure have never heard anything like this...The musicianship is stunning, yet the eastern mood is really inviting. Really recommended to all who want to journey with their mind! ... (read more)

Report this review (#45624) | Posted by | Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN "Natural Elements"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.