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INDO-PROG/RAGA ROCK

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Indo-Prog/Raga Rock definition

The private, metaphysical relations to oneself, to the other, the symbolism of existence are connected, transfigured by the particular expression of raga, classical India music. The emotion provided by this music is not only "affective". It's a real message, an aesthetic of the nature, of the divine, a virtue able to guide the listener to a state of emotional trance. In the mid-60's with the launch of international success of raga masters as Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan.European and American artists will become more and more captivated by the dynamical relation between mystical emotion, spirituality and music. The emergence of Raga schools from everywhere (still perpetuating the ancestral musical traditions), the initiatic travels of Western minimalist-modern jazz composers (Terry Riley, Don Cherry...) to India will participate to a growing interest for this musical universe. The emphasis on repetitive circular rhythms, ornamentation (gamaka), the use of acoustic stringed patterns, the sense of beatific endurance and lenghty improvisation are the central characteristics of this music in term of practice and sound aesthetism. Emotionally, the function on the listener is hypnotic, voluntary trying to reach him into a higher state of consciousness, modulating his perception of time and space. The basic conception of "drone" (continuous sound form) will be taken back in popular music and turned into "kosmische" electronica (70's Berlin underground). After Seventh sons' first original but rather discreet effort simply called "raga" (1964) and Malachi's holy music (1966), famous bands as the Beatles in "Revolver" (1966) and Traffic in their album "Mr Fantasy" (1967) will be seduced by the sonorities of Indian raga music. They occasionally incorporate sitar elements to their music. Among the most notorious artists who participate to the original dialogue between proggy rock and Indian music we can notice many jazzy formed musicians influenced by "world" elements (the guitarists Volker Krieger, Steve Tibbetts, the clarinet player Tony Scott). They are often recognised to practice a fusion between jazz rock harmonies and raga's instrumentations (tabla, sitar.). Among them Collin Walcott and Alberto Marsicano were Ravi Shankar's pupils. The world of "raga" rock can also include psych folk / drone-y bands (Quintessance, Fit & Limo, Flute & Voice, GHQ, Pelt...) and which are largely impregnated by mysticism, sonic meditation and sitar.

Philippe Blache



The responsibility for the psych/space, indo/raga, krautrock and prog electronic subgenres is taken by the PSIKE team,
currently consisting of
- Sheavy
- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Indo-Prog/Raga Rock | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.34 | 74 ratings
MIXTUS ORBIS
Fertier's Clivage, Andre
4.15 | 130 ratings
NATURAL ELEMENTS
Shakti With John McLaughlin
4.13 | 44 ratings
CODONA 3
Codona
4.11 | 18 ratings
ZENDIK - THE ALBUM
Zendik, Wulf
4.14 | 14 ratings
DANCE OF THE COZMIC WARRIORZ
Zendik, Wulf
4.22 | 9 ratings
TERRA DEI
Hortobágyi, László
3.98 | 37 ratings
CODONA
Codona
5.00 | 2 ratings
A MUSICAL DISCOVERY OF INDIA
Shankar, Ananda
5.00 | 2 ratings
ANANDA SHANKAR AND PRITISH NANDY: LONESONG STREET
Shankar, Ananda
5.00 | 2 ratings
6TH ALL-INDIA MUSIC CONFERENCE
Hortobágyi, László
4.00 | 14 ratings
ANANDA SHANKAR AND HIS MUSIC
Shankar, Ananda
3.91 | 32 ratings
DEDICATED TO THE BIRD WE LOVE
Oriental Sunshine
3.97 | 14 ratings
DAWN
Robertson, Don
4.20 | 5 ratings
THE SEANCE TAPES
Saturnia
4.25 | 4 ratings
AEON
Hortobágyi, László
3.86 | 42 ratings
A=MH2
Clark Hutchinson
3.93 | 15 ratings
HOLY MUSIC
Malachi
4.33 | 3 ratings
MEMESIS - MEMRAGAS FROM ANOTHER 21ST CENTURY
Hortobágyi, László
4.00 | 7 ratings
THE ARCADIAN COLLECTION
Hortobágyi, László
3.89 | 15 ratings
DREAM SEQUENCE
Cosmic Eye

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Indo-Prog/Raga Rock experts team

SOUND AWARENESS
Brother Ah
TANYET
Ceyleib People, the
MIRROR IMAGE
Alford, Clem
ECHO IN LIGHT
Lamp Of The Universe

Latest Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Music Reviews


 Magic Carpet by MAGIC CARPET album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.44 | 35 ratings

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Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars MAGIC CARPET were a British Psych-Folk band who - along with Quintessence - were one of the early pioneers of Indian- influenced Raga Rock. The band were led by Clem Alford, a classically trained player of the sitar, tamboura and esraj(?). The band released the self-titled "Magic Carpet" album in 1972, but broke up shortly afterwards, due to poor album sales. This rare album has since been described as "a jewelled crown in the treasure trove of psyche-tinged folk music", and deservedly so. It seemed as if the band had disappeared without trace until 1996, when Clem Alford got the band together again to record the aptly-titled "Once Moor - Magic Carpet II" album. A 1990's CD reissue of the first Magic Carpet album added the 20- minute-long "Raga" as a bonus track to the original twelve songs. Let's take a "Magic Carpet" ride to the Indian subcontinent now and have a listen to the album.

The album opens with the instrumental title track "The Magic Carpet", which sets the scene (and the table) very nicely indeed. Imagine, if you will, that you've just sat down and ordered a meal at your local Indian curry house. The waiter arrives with your chicken vindaloo curry and a plate full of poppadoms with a turban-headed man dressed in a dhoti robe playing away merrily on his sitar next to your table. That's the kind of hot and spicy image this music conjures up. The next track is like "The Phoenix" rising from the ashes because that's the title of the song. It's an uplifting song featuring an Indian tabla drum and we get to hear the beautiful lilting tones of Alisha Sufit for the first time. It's a gorgeous spiritual song full of radiant beauty and love and Alisha's warm and delightful voice will carry you away to a warm and exotic place somewhere in the distant land of the Raj. "Black Cat" is another lovely Indian-themed song, served up hot and spicy at your table. Alisha Sufit's dulcet tones are very reminiscent of some of Sally Oldfield's exotic songs from her first album "Water Bearer" (1978). We're still in the exotic land of a thousand and one Indian nights with "Alan's Christmas Card", a nicely laid-back instrumental guitar and sitar number, although there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it. This charming piece of spicy exotica will put you in a mellow mood with the sound of an Indian drummer gently tapping away on his tabla drums. Try not to get too laid back and fall asleep though because we're not even halfway through the album yet. It's time to gather in the "Harvest Song" now as angelic Alisha sings "You reap what you sow, You sow what you reap". Her mellifluous rich tones are part of what makes this a very special album indeed. We're still in the land of The Far Pavillions for "Do You Hear the Words", another hot and sultry sitar number to close out Side One.

A gong announces the arrival of "Father Time" to open Side Two. It's four and a half minutes of sheer delight with the ever- present sitar player and Alisha Sufit's charming voice bringing to mind evocative and exotic images of India. We're in La-La Land next for "La-La". There's no need to ask what the lyrics are about, because as you've probably guessed, the only "lyrics" are "La-La" repeated ad infinitum until the sitar player finally runs out of steam. It's still a jolly nice tune though. If you're not in a peaceful mood already, then you will be after the next spiritual song, because it's the Magic Carpet "Peace Song", which is just as relaxing and peaceful as the song title implies, so just lie back and think of India. It's time to order your "Take Away Kesh" now, because that's the title of the next song on the album. If you can't afford a trip to exotic eastern lands, then close your eyes and let this side order of Indian exotica take you there. It's time to take a trip down to your local Indian restaurant now on the "High Street", which, as I'm sure you'll guess by now, features a tabla drummer and a sitar player to entertain you while you dine on curry and poppadoms. You'll need something to quench the thirst after all that hot and spicy food, so take a good long swig of your favourite aperitif and have a listen to "The Dream", the final song on the album. Alisha's passionate and mellifluous tones are a real dream and delight to listen to and she's in unusually high voice for this divinely spiritual closing number. Wait a minute though, our magic carpet ride is not quite over yet, because there's the long bonus track "Raja", which is 20 minutes of heavenly sitar bliss!

"Magic Carpet" really IS an Indian "Jewel in the Crown". It's a hot and spicy spiritual adventure, conjuring up images of exotic and distant foreign lands somewhere in the Indian subcontinent. It's not an essential prog album, because it's not in the least bit proggy, but it IS an essential Raga Rock album. Give it a listen. It might just spice up your life.

 In Blissful Company by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.32 | 40 ratings

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In Blissful Company
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars QUINTESSENCE were a quintessentially English Psych-Folk band. Their unique brand of Indian-influenced psychedelic folk music came to be defined as Raga Rock. The London-based, six-piece band released five albums between the years of 1969 and 1972, beginning with the album we have here "In Blissful Company" (1969), and followed by "Quintessence" (1970), "Dive Deep" (1971), Self (1972), and finally "Indweller" (1972). There were also two later offshoots of the band, named Kala's Quintessence and Shiva's Quintessence. The 2004 CD remaster of "In Blissful Company" included two bonus tracks added to the original eight songs on the album. It's time now to cook up a hot Madras curry and settle down with the sitar for some psychedelic Raga Rock.

"Giants" opens the album with a real giant of a song. It's a four and a half minute long psychedelic freak-out, featuring not only the sound of a wailing acid guitar, but some wailing vocals too. Tune in, turn on, and drop out to this psychedelic blast from the past. In the immortal words of Austin Powers, "It's groovy baby!" Onwards now to the intriguingly-titled "Manco Capac", who, just in case you wondered, was the first governor and founder of the Inca civilisation in Cusco, Peru. This Lovely song is overflowing with Love and flower power. It's sensual, it's spiritual and it's a song with perpetual appeal 50 years on from its recording. Take a look at these inspirational and devotional lyrics:- "High on a mount in the sacred place, The Holy sun is born to the lake, He radiates his life - the sun's so, In water and cosmic energy the God's flow, And he is the spirit in the lake of time, His eyes are the Truth you seek, His face is blue wishing cloud skies." ..... Hallelujah brother! This spiritual slice of late 1960's psychedelia will take you on a cosmic journey along the free love freeway, without the aid of any psychedelic substances. Far Out, Man! Onto Song No. 3 now and "Body", another song drenched in swinging psychedelic 1960's vibes. If you're looking for fun and feelin' groovy, then chill out to this mellow and laid-back groove and dream about going to San Francisco and wearing some flowers in your hair. And now we come to an uptempo and uplifting number "Gange Mai". What's it all about you may well ask. Well, it's all about the sacred (but very polluted) River Ganges as these lyrics reveal:- "Gange Mai, The river, Gange Mai, Holy water." ..... Yes, that's it in a nutshell. It's a lyrical, spritual hymnal tribute to the Indian river and Hindu goddess Ganga. The title of the next song, "Chant", might give you a clue as to what to expect. You won't be surprised to hear it's a devotional song full to the brim with repeated chants of "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna", so you might be inclined to put on a robe and shave your head for this spiritual number. Then again, perhaps not.

Onto groovy Side Two now and it's time to get on the magic bus for "Pearl and Bird". It's an enchanting and entrancing, laid- back devotional groove, with the golden-voiced rich mellow tones of the singer inviting us on a spritual journey. This inspiring music is your ticket to musical heaven. Onto Song No. 7 now and the best-known song by Quintessence which they'll always be remembered for, "Notting Hill Gate", which just happens to be the district of London where the band originally hails from. This bright and lively, flutey psychedelic number was released as a single in 1970 and reached No. 22 in the UK charts. We come to the end of this inspirational and spiritual album now with "Midnight Mode", an epic 9-minute midnight mass, featuring a gorgeously-long flute solo. which Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull would be proud of. It's a song full of Indian mysticism and psychedelic guitar grooves. It's hippy, it's trippy, and if you're in the right kind of mood, the music will make you feel part of an ever-expanding, loving, joyful, glorious, and harmonious universe. Far Out Man!

If you've remained in blissful ignorance of this marvellous album for the last 50 years, then give "In Blissful Company" a listen. This beautiful, inspirational and spiritual album will take you on an emotional, mind-expanding, psychedelic journey of love and devotion. Who needs a dopamine high from drugs to reach the heights of spiritual ecstasy when you can achieve an emotional and devotional high with this wonderful debut album. "In Blissful Company" is indeed a blissful album, which is best listened to in romantic company. It's fabulous, baby!

 Hemĺt by HARVESTER album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.81 | 18 ratings

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Hemĺt
Harvester Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by south87

5 stars In 1969, International Harvester shortened their name to Harvester and released Hemĺt, the second official album of the group originally known as Pärson Sound. It is a natural follow up to Sov Gott Rose-Marie containing a greater focus on the droning and minimal improvisations that characterized the original sound of the band as PS rather on the short and pretty gems of the first half said album. Previously, listeners had only tasted the electric mantric jamming singular to the band in the form of "I Mourn You" ("How to Survive" being a dark acoustic jam).

Given the duration of Harvester's jams and the limitations of the LP medium, we see a problem that is to linger across PS/IH/TGS releases: the trouble of "fitting" long tracks on LPs like it where a puzzle, trying to achieve variety and length in a single LP. To acomplish this, the band had to cut the tracks and add the now classic fade in and out to succesfully include various improvisations in a single LP. As the majority of the pieces in the album feature this blurred beginning and ending, the feeling of eternity permeates the album. Coupled with the fact that the drone is ever present and the mantric repetition is the focus of the album, the result is very ambient and psychedelic sounding music.

As in the previous album, the sound is overall excellent, the bass is mixed in very deep and sounds great along with the drums. The rhythm section alone produces a great deal of heaviness through out the album. The heaviness of the record rivals that of the PS recordings. Previously not found in Sov Gott Rose-Marie are elements like wah-wah in the guitar, more "traditional" rhythms like the boogie, a constant participation of the saxophone and a less restrained sound overall. The vibe and style is very similar to the PS recordings and has much better pacing.

The first half of the album is presented as 2 couples consisting each of a short track and a minimalistic jam. The album opener is a nice and dronig song accompanied by acoustic guitars, falsely setting the tone of the album, one might think it might consist of varied material as in the previous one. It is clear that the track serves a prelude to the album and it fades out to the first minimalist jam. "Kristallen Den Fina" and its drone suddenly fades in and within the minute, its groovy rhythm is accompanied by the classic unconventional chanting of the band members giving it a sort of wonderful Dionysian touch, adding energy to the increasing drone. All band members are present and in full blast creating eventually a thick and heavy texture. As it was the staple since the time of PS, the music features slowly changing features and melodies maitaining the listener bewildered in its sonic landscapes. It is a fantastic track and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

"Kuk-Polska" and "Nepal Boogie" are the next couple. The former being traditional dance music rendered for a rock band format with wind instruments. The result is akin to that of a traditional town band in the middle of a festivity. As Bo Anders has stated in interviews, part of the spirit of the band was to provide organic music to every day life. A kind of true "electric folk music". The track as a result is very danceable and features quirky vocals in pure PS style. "Nepal Boogie" continues the grinding drones and monolithic rhythms with the band at full throttle. The saxophone relentlessly solos and wails over wah wah guitar and goes non-stop heavy until its gradual fade out.

In the original release, the second half of the album placed 3 minimalistic and almost equally long tracks together. The first is "Everybody needs somebody (To love)", a cover song that maintains a steady and groovy pace from start to finish. The vocals are not very discernable and overall the music doesnt reach the heights the previous tracks had though the formula is the same. The music is heavy sounding through out but doesnt really stand out. Bacon Tomorrow is a live track, probably involving some sort of interaction with the audience. It consists of a heavy and upbeat bassline grooving through out the track while ambient noises, clapping, wind instruments, chanting and saxophone interventions mold and change the atmosphere. The track is reminiscent of the PS recordings and is probably the least conventional of the album. Although its recording quality is lacking, it is evident the resulting atmosphere is something Harvester thought highly of and is overall more interesting than the preivous track.

The third track is "Och Solen Gĺr Upp", another minimalist jam featuring crazy vocals that fades in playing the famous "India" motif. The track was edited as the shortest minimalist jam of the record at 4:50 and it builds up pretty quickly to its heavy climax and shortly after fades out and ends the album, sonically its great and follows the same mantric formula, but again does not reach the heights of previous tracks.

Again, the second half of the album could have been better if the title track was in place of the last one or "Everybody needs somebody (To love)". Once again, why such a great track was left as a bonus in place of not so strong ones is perplexing. The title track is the best one in the album. Featuring a singular droning psychedelic groove from the start, beautiful sax lines and excellent wah wah guitar accenting the hypnotic atmosphere, its Harvester sounding at their most fresh, at its most timeless and excentric style. The CD release of Hemĺt adds a transition between "Och Solen Gĺr Upp" and the title track consisting of bird singings reminding us of the previous album. The CD version does indeed again aliviate a lack of a convincing close to the album and once again, balances it out, saving it from feeling forever incomplete.

There is no doubt that the LP medium was not intended for this band's music and to fit it, many sacrifices had to be made. The majority of these tracks where evidently much longer and we got only a glimpse of them. Of the original releases, the album is one of the most consistly minimalist and monolithic through out. If Sov Gott Rose-marie showed the enhanced version of the songwriting found in the PS recordings, Hemĺt exemplified a cleaner and more focused version of the mantric improvisations.

Being the last album before morphing into a more rock driven format, Hemĺt stands as a signpost, evidence of what was and what could have been. A true testament to psychedelic rock. The Pärson Sound, International Harvester and Harvester recordings remain as the most eclectic and timeless albums of this group's history. Even with its few flaws, Hemĺt is an astounding release, documenting and offering insight into the unique and psychedelic jams of this incredible group.

 Quintessence by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.19 | 31 ratings

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Quintessence
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

3 stars Peace, bro!!

This is a trippy album. Yes, it contains some Indian stuff, a bit of "Hare Krshna, Hare Hare", but from this album only I don't understand why it's classified into the Raga subgenre. Luckily it's made of proper music, also good, but the atmosphere is that of the first AMON DUUL album, with a big difference: QUINTESSENCE knew how to play an instrument, the first AMON DUUL were just a band of hippies banging on bongos.

In my view, this is a psychedelic album, released in 1970 and deeply son of its era, maybe even a bit late.

The album has all the right ingredients: flute, percussion, prayers but also bass and electric guitar. There are some interesting guitar solos. Sometimes they are just too long because, you know, when you are having a good trip, stopping is difficult. So you can make a lot of things tripping on Aminor and Dmajor, especially on a live performance.

It's a good document of an era, played with some skill but fresh as you can expect from a band of hippies. Far from being a masterpiece, it's a nice listen.

 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.27 | 30 ratings

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Music From Macbeth
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars THIRD EAR BAND was a British instrumental group that released four albums between 1969 and 1972 (later they reactivated and made many more albums). Perhaps they were originally associated to the progressive rock scene more because of their prog-oriented record label Harvest than the nature of the music itself. The band isn't very familiar to me, so I can't compare this work to their other albums. However, this one obviously differs from its predecessors in the way that the tracks are often very short (mostly between 1 and 3 minutes) instead of containing lengthy hypnotic drones, since it was composed for film, Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971). I haven't seen it, but it seems to have become a respected classic. "Perhaps William Shakespeare meant to have Lady Macbeth perform her sleepwalking scene in the nude -- it was this X-rated scene and the film's much-publicized spurts of violence, rather than the brilliant performances of Jon Finch as Macbeth and Francesca Annis as his Lady, that lured crowds", says Hal Erickson in his All Movie Guide review. Did you know that the film was financed by Playboy?

To demonstrate the uniqueness of TEB, it's good to begin with the unusual instrumentation: oboe and recorder (Paul Minns), cello and bass (Paul Buckmaster), plus guitars, drums, violin and VCS3 synth. The two last mentioned are played by Simon House, formerly of High Tide and later of Hawkwind -- the only member who hasn't any composing credits here. The music is mostly acoustic, pretty much dominated by oboe, cello and violin. Also the simple percussion sounds like the band is after an old music flavour. But they were no Amazing Blondel; no harmonic troubadour stuff but slightly disjointed and gloomy soundscapes. One can imagine how emotionally effective this music is on the film telling the sinister story of Macbeth, but undoubtedly it loses some of its appeal without that context.

A couple of brief tracks such as 'Dagger and Death' are more experimental and disturbing than the rest. The most accessible pieces are the rhythmic 'Court Dance' and 'Fleance', which is the only track featuring vocals. The album credits don't mention the vocalist. Only the close reading of the liner notes (I'm having the new Esoteric Recordings re-release) reveals the name Keith Chegwin -- surprisingly, since one would expect a woman. Apart from the lengthy liner notes (written by the underground writer/archivist Luca Chino Ferrari), the ER reissue contains three bonus tracks, previously unreleased first versions of 'Court Dance', 'Groom's Dance' and 'Fleance'. To my ears the differences are small, but at least the pieces in question are among the album highlights.

Personally speaking, this album didn't make me very interested in Third Ear Band. A bit too odd for my liking... Not that I'd ever been very keen on so called Raga-Rock in general. If you fancy hearing acoustic, oboe and string dominated, old music flavoured and dark-toned instrumental music, especially the new reissue with the detailed liner notes is worth checking out.

 Transparenze E Suoni by NO STRANGE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Transparenze E Suoni
No Strange Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Although they started as a post-punk band in the vein of Tuxedomoon called I No Strani, the duo that would become NO STRANGE were already exploring with unconventional instruments and were destined for cosmic music.

NO STRANGE is an Italian neo-psychedelic duo from Turin founded in 1980 by Salvatore Ursus D'Urso and Alberto Ezzu. Despite technically still together they have released only a few albums in their near forty year history, two in the 80s, one in the 90s and four in the 2010's.

Their debut TRANSPARENZE E SUONI came out in 1985 on Toast Recods and displayed an unique mix of psychedelic rock, Indo-raga drones as well as the progressive rock vocal style that was made famous by the romantic 70s bands such as PFM and Banco.

The title track begins the album and takes up more than half of the short album that just misses the thirty minute mark. The track meanders from what would be considered 70s Italian prog to a true space cadet journey through a raga drone with oodles of hypnotic sound effects to take the listener on a real cosmic journey.

Unlike many raga albums, this one is filled with vocals whether they be the more normal passionate prog rock style that begins the track or the monk field chants that accompany the sonic cosmic trip.

Ezzu handles vocals, guitar, bass and sitar whereas D'Urso provides the percussive backdrop with extra vocals.

The album is a clear throwback to the late 60s / early 70s timeline with anachronistic tracks such as "Let Me Play The Sitar" right out of the hippie playbook with a gentle lulling melody performed on sitar with subdued vocal harmonies.

Both "The New World" and "Another Morning" carry on the late 60s vibe with groovy psychedelic pop. "The Sound Is God" gravitates more toward the raga side with lush sitar in a cosmic dance with chanting as well as lyrics.

This album is pleasant to listen to but is really outdated for 1985. It almost sounds as if it really was recorded 15 years prior and only found its way out of the vaults in the 80s. Cool and all but really nothing exciting either. Too poppy at times to take you on a real trip and too trippy at times to dissuade from the psychedelic pop.

 Music From Macbeth by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.27 | 30 ratings

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Music From Macbeth
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars THIRD EAR BAND released their self-tiled album also known as "Elements" in 1970 having found notoriety with their other-worldly mix of folk ragas, chamber music and free jazz cranked out on medieval acoustic instruments. The band managed to score gigs by cohorting with some of the psychedelic 60s bigwigs including Pink Floyd and Pretty Things. During the same year, the band was commissioned to create a soundtrack for the animated film "Abelard And Heloise" but remained unreleased until it finally appeared in 1997 on the book / CD set "Necromancers Of The Floating West."

Although it remained occulted for decades, it still resulted in the band participating in yet another soundtrack, the one for Roman Polanski's dark and sombre version of "Macbeth," which was his first movie he made after the horrifying murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, who was snuffed out by Charles Manson and his homicidal death cult. Like his real life tales of torturous pain and doom and gloom set in the tenebrous fog and rainy lands of Scotland, Polanski's version of MacBeth reveled in a cursed and terrifying history and in many ways mirrored the very personal experiences he suffered from the miscreant Manson family.

Polanski could not have chosen a more suitable band for his project for no one at the time matched the sheer terrifying sonic scope of THIRD EAR BAND. For their limitations to a mere handful of acoustic instruments such as oboe, recorder, cello, drums and violins, no one else of the era could evoke such hair-raising emotional power as this band could with their utterly alien approach of seeking out new chapters of musical composition. On MUSIC FROM MACBETH, technically the band's third and final album of the first chapter of their initial run, the band straddles beautifully between bizarre formless constructs of sound and more lugubrious renditions of medieval dance and anachronistic swing.

While there is no mistaking the distinct THIRD EAR BAND sound, this album was different than their previous two works. Firstly, the long improvisations that extended to swallow large chunks of their album's real estate had been truncated into sixteen shorter tracks thus allowing a more focused approach. This album also contains electronic effects as well as angelic vocal contributions by a prepubescent 12-year old Keith Chegwin (although sparingly). The album utilizes the same sort of chamber music as before but there are also elements of Indian and Middle Eastern influences strewn about as well. The tracks alternate between more structured period pieces that are somewhat uplifting and completely detached and alienating tracks that utilized the terrifying effects of aleatoric music which THIRD EAR BAND accomplished with astonishing success.

While some soundtracks are made to accompany a cinematic experience and do not hold up on their own two feet, MUSIC FROM MACBETH is an exception as it lends just enough focusing effects on the music to give it a unifying theme yet allows the band to explore their tumultuous and improvisation acid folk techniques to full glory. This is an excellent slice of early 70s freak folk that manages to take a creative road through what one would assume to be tried and tested material. Much like Polanski's personal experiences, "MacBeth" was a dark and sombre take on Shakespeare's famous oeuvre and THIRD EAR BAND's sonic touches proved to be one of the best decisions he made in regarding the perfect film score to match the film's intensity. This music more than stands up on its own and seems like a logical precursor to the chamber rock avant prog that Univers Zero would adopt several years down the road.

 Dream Sequence  by COSMIC EYE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.89 | 15 ratings

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Dream Sequence
Cosmic Eye Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Out of all the projects that have been lumped into the Indo-raga camp from the period of the late 60s to the early 70s, none displayed a more authentic and diversified approach as did Amancio D'Silva with John Mayer on their incredible project COSMIC EYE which not only took their jazz-rock fusion sensibilities to task but applied them to cross-pollinating possibilities of the then popular fusionist approaches in full regalia. While born in Goa, India, D'Silva eschewed his Indian origins and high-tailed into the world of Western jazz music however it's never quite possible to totally leave behind one's roots as they have a way of creeping their way into every possible fertile reawakening as is the case with D'Silva.

By 1969 the cross-cultural musical experience was pretty much mainstream with a legion of artists creating bridges between cultural differences. By 1972, the Indo-raga scene was in its highest potential with bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra taking the east-west paradigm to ridiculous extremes. The sitar was virtual just another rock instrument in some circles at this time so D'Silva decided to revisit his origins, having, of course, a legit connection to the both worlds at this point in his career. The project COSMIC EYE was the answer to this calling and on the one and only album DREAM SEQUENCE, he more than met the challenge in an effortless jazz meets Indo-raga exploration that takes two long tracks that equal an album into hitherto unexplored regions of this ensemble of ten musicians tackling an impressive range of musical terrain.

While segmented into two tracks for bookkeeping's sake, this is really an album of passages where each idea cedes into the next with only the cosmic journey into the unknown seems to dominate. While many Indo-raga bands of the day were content with mere jam sessions that consisted of just a few players, COSMIC EYE is more like an orchestra in its sheer scope of ten musicians that included the instruments of guitar, sitar, violin, flute, alto flute, bass flute, saxophone, bass, tabla and other drums. The result is a rich tapestry of what i would envision as bona fide Raga rock from the ages. While others disappoint, COSMIC EYE takes the listener on the real journey, one that really enters that timeless transcendental journey into the universe in a meditative state without a doubt that the pilot is incapable of the flight plan.

While the Mahavishnu Orchestra was probably one of the most successful and convincing bands to integrate the Eastern paradigm into a rock context, COSMIC EYE could possibly be the opposite as they successfully integrate a Western perspective into an Eastern dominant position. Granted that jazz is the Western genre of choice on this one however the juxtaposition between the jazz moments and the raga elements is beautifully performed with all ten musicians seamlessly lending their support to create an experience above and beyond the call of duty. While some bands were clearly stuck in the 60s at this point, COSMIC EYE channeled all of what was expected of the 60s and took them into the higher realms of musical development of the 70s. This is a brilliant jazz meets Indian music album that displays respect to both sides of the globe while creating interesting interplay that cedes into logical evolutionary steps. If you are seeking one of those authentic east meets west experiences of the era without the bombast or a lopsided dominance of one side over the other then COSMIC EYE is what you're looking for.

 Magic Carpet by MAGIC CARPET album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.44 | 35 ratings

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Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars The 60s were a magical time of cross-pollinating potential of then exotic new sounds merging with Western rock music with Indian music topping the list for that mystical flare of inspiration. With artists like Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan paving the way into the hearts of occidental record shops, it wouldn't take long for The Beatles to experiment with the sitar and give the green light for a wave of Indo-raga bands to emerge in the latter half of the 60s. In 1970 three friends got together to create some of the first authentic fusion of Western and Eastern music instead of the usual sitar providing an exotic backdrop to mostly rock music. Sitarist Clem Alford, guitarist Jim Moyes and tabla player Keshav Sathe began playing together under the name Sargam, a name taken from of a note in an Indian scale.

The band signed with the Windmill Record label who bungled the affair to high heaven. Firstly they spelled the band's name wrong and erroneously misconstrued it as Sagram (which the band has been known as ever since) and then they unapologetically released the band's material under the lame ass album title "Pop Explosion Sitar Style!" with a rather Hugh Hefner with his Playboy bunny harem album cover, all without the band's permission. Needless to say, this didn't go over too well and the band split ways with their unscrupulous label in pursuit of better offers. Soon thereafter signed with Mushroom Records and changed their name to MAGIC CARPET and added a fourth member in the form of Alisha Sufit who added her feminine vocal charm as well as additional guitar parts.

While Sagram was more of a traditional take on Hindustani classical raga music with only some Western approaches added, MAGIC CARPET sounded more like what Jefferson Airplane would've cranked out had they gone down the same mystical roads to the Orient. The music on MAGIC CARPET's one and only eponymously titled album is centered mainly around Clem Alford's virtuosic sitar performances with the guitars and tablas basically providing backup support with the extra touch of Sufit adding her best "White Rabbit" type of vocal style enshrouded in mystical lyricism. The quartet stayed together for a year and played quite a few prestigious gig ranging from the 100 Club in London to Sounds Of The Seventies on BBC Radio but never really caught on since their music emulated a rather dated 60s vibe that had been long surpassed with bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra setting the bar to virtuosic levels.

While released in 1972, the music on MAGIC CARPET's sole release sounds more like something that should've been heard in 1967, perhaps on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. It sounds like the proto-makings of the Indo-raga experience and not the expected more accomplished sounds that should've emerged by the year 1972 when progressive music was at its peak. The album was a failure and the band members moved on to other things without giving the MAGIC CARPET ride a second thought, but as all things have cycles, so too did the Indo-raga revival and interest in their music has caught on more as a cult hit after the fact. The CD reissue contains a 20 minute bonus track called "Raga" which fits in with the overall sound perfectly and could've possibly created a double album if released initially.

While some bands added more rock elements to their Indo-raga, MAGIC CARPET was a slow nonchalant detour into mellow psychedelic folk with clean guitar sounds strumming behind sitar, tabla and Sufit's rather Grace Slick vocal style. This album does succeed in taking the listener to a meditative state as it is set on simmer and never really deviates from its cosmic flow through the universe. Having been one of the more authentic mixes of Indian and Western influences, it is a true accomplishment that blends well, however nothing on this one is mind-blowing either. The tracks tend to have a samey feel and never take the listener somewhere that hasn't already been accomplished. This album is basically a hippie jam type of album and although pleasant doesn't conjure up the cream of the crop of this particular ethnic offshoot of the rock universe either.

 The Plains Of Alluvial by AMPS FOR CHRIST album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.86 | 3 ratings

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The Plains Of Alluvial
Amps For Christ Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AMPS FOR CHRIST began in 1995 basically as the one-man project of Henry Barnes who stemmed from both the hardcore punk band Man Is The Bastard and its uglier harsh noise offspring Bastard Noise. The eclectic mix of sounds that made up this project was created to explore the disparate sounds of Barnes' noise and metal passions with his additional appreciation of various forms of ethnic folk, classical and jazz laid out in a rather Indo-raga compositional context.

Over the years AMPS FOR CHRIST has put out quite a few releases with THE PLAINS OF ALLUVIAL being their debut. It was only released on cassette in 1995 which is somewhat rare to track down and finally repressed onto vinyl in 2016. While clearly falling to the realms of the underground, AMPS FOR CHRIST scored in 2006 when Animal Collective invited the band to open for them on a West Coast tour which ushered in a newer generation of followers.

Musically THE PLAINS OF ALLUVIAL is a treasure trove of sounds that has found many labels to describe it with genres ranging from drone and electroacoustic to avant-folk, experimental rock, noise rock, art punk and even no wave. While all these sorta give a hint as what to expect, none really convey the fusion of the elements involved. The musical compositions range from traditional Celtic songs to Segovia type classical guitar tracks with some exhibiting highly applied feedback and fuzz much like a band like Boris and some truly fitting into a more Pagan based avant-folk like Natural Snow Buildings.

This debut is a strange beast as it contains 22 short tracks with most only lasting a minute or two. While some tracks like "Sitron" are straight out of the no wave playbook with angular rhythmic guitars jostling around like loose electrically wires and "Oscilin" sounding like some strange alien noise rock, most of the tracks are firmly based in some sort of Celtic folk setting to some degree with the occasional acoustic classical guitar appearances.

One thing that unique is that Barnes experiments with waveform manipulations and messes with instruments until he gets the desired sounds out of them which give the music a strange alien type of feel. Through the clever mixing of stringed instruments, pre-ampls and amplifiers he creates some strange and unnerving sounds that are utterly indescribable and some soft sensual traditional that sound fairly standard. Basically this debut will be only of interest to lovers of harsh noise rock as the meditative Indo-raga aspects don't really shine through on this one. Some cool stuff on here but sorta inconsistent as well.

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Indo-Prog/Raga Rock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
500MG United States
ABSTRACT TRUTH South Africa
CLEM ALFORD United Kingdom
ALUMBRADOS United States
ERIK AMLEE United States
AMPS FOR CHRIST United States
OKKO BEKKER Germany
ANDY BOLE United Kingdom
BROTHER AH United States
BOBBY CALLENDER United States
THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE United States
CLARK HUTCHINSON United Kingdom
CODONA Multi-National
COSMIC EYE Multi-National
THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE United States
ANDRE FERTIER'S CLIVAGE France
FIT & LIMO Germany
FLOATING FLOWER Japan
FLUTE & VOICE Germany
GENSHI-KYODOTAI (PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY) Japan
GHQ United States
THE HABIBIYYA United Kingdom
HARVESTER Sweden
LÁSZLÓ HORTOBÁGYI Hungary
KALA United Kingdom
KALACAKRA Germany
KANGURU Australia
LAMP OF THE UNIVERSE New Zealand
LANGSYNE Germany
MAGIC CARPET United Kingdom
MALACHI United States
ALBERTO MARSICANO Brazil
MONTIBUS COMMUNITAS Peru
NO STRANGE Italy
THE ORIENT EXPRESS Multi-National
ORIENT SQUEEZERS Sweden
ORIENTAL SUNSHINE Multi-National
OSSIAN / OSJAN Poland
PELT United States
QUINTESSENCE United Kingdom
VASANT RAI Multi-National
DON ROBERTSON United States
SADDAR BAZAAR United Kingdom
SAGRAM United Kingdom
SATURNIA Portugal
SATWA Brazil
SEVENTH SONS United States
SHAKTI WITH JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Multi-National
ANANDA SHANKAR India
SHANTI Multi-National
SMASH Spain
JIM SULLIVAN United Kingdom
THIRD EAR BAND United Kingdom
WULF ZENDIK United States

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