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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 | 71 ratings
MIXTUS ORBIS
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
4.15 | 126 ratings
NATURAL ELEMENTS
Shakti With John McLaughlin
4.13 | 43 ratings
CODONA 3
Codona
4.11 | 18 ratings
ZENDIK - THE ALBUM
Zendik, Wulf
3.98 | 37 ratings
CODONA
Codona
4.13 | 13 ratings
DANCE OF THE COZMIC WARRIORZ
Zendik, Wulf
4.22 | 9 ratings
TERRA DEI
Hortobágyi, László
3.91 | 32 ratings
DEDICATED TO THE BIRD WE LOVE
Oriental Sunshine
4.00 | 14 ratings
ANANDA SHANKAR AND HIS MUSIC
Shankar, Ananda
3.85 | 40 ratings
A=MH2
Clark Hutchinson
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
3.97 | 12 ratings
DAWN
Robertson, Don
3.86 | 26 ratings
IMAGINATIONS OF LIGHT
Flute & Voice
3.93 | 14 ratings
HOLY MUSIC
Malachi
3.85 | 22 ratings
CODONA 2
Codona
3.88 | 16 ratings
SATURNIA
Saturnia
3.88 | 14 ratings
DREAM SEQUENCE
Cosmic Eye
4.25 | 4 ratings
AEON
Hortobágyi, László

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

IF MAN BUT KNEW
Habibiyya, The
OSSIAN AND TOMASZ STAńKO: OSSIAN
Ossian / Osjan
TANYET
Ceyleib People, the
MAGIC CARPET
Magic Carpet

Latest Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Music Reviews


 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
3.30 | 28 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
3.88 | 14 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
3.41 | 33 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.

 Saturnia by SATURNIA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.88 | 16 ratings

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Saturnia
Saturnia Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars Anyone who thinks that the flower power hippie movement ended when the odometer hit 1970 couldn't be further from the truth. While nihilism and cynicism crept back in to rain on the peace and love parade, the overall vibe of the 60s never really left. It may have taken a snoozer now again but the alarm clock inevitably chimes and new generations are attracted to its lost promises. Such is the case of the Lisbon, Portugal based SATURNIA which was the brainchild of producer and multi-instrumentalist Luis Simōes who alone covers guitar, sitar, bass, theremin, gong as well as vocals.

Thirty years after the 60s ideology faded like Vietnamese villages smothered by agent orange, the hippie vibe was resurrected in Portugal as Simōes planned on creating a communal band however despite his achronistic tendencies, he nonetheless failed to attract kindred spirits to carry out his intended plans. Thus he became a one man band with a few guest musicians helping out.

Over the years Simōes has worked with many such guests including Gong's own Daevid Allen, Hawkwind's Nik Turner as well as Colour Haze's Stefan Koglek however on this eponymous debut that emerged at the turn of the millennium in 1999, the guest roster is a little more mysterious with no reliable credits cited over the internet (unfortunately i do not own this fine pleasantry so perhaps liner notes exist to shed light on this nebulousness).

If one was to judge from the album cover, this could've sat in the vaults since 1969 when artists like Quietessence, Oriental Sunshine, A=mh2 and Ananda Shankar were following the trend set forth by The Beatles to incorporate everything Indian into their rock music paradigm. However, this was the end of the 90s and much had changed in 30 years and the SATURNIA project utilized the similar in vibe electronic and indie aspects that graced the 90s with impunity.

This debut album embraces not only the feel good Rancho Relaxo vibes of the Summer of Love years but also takes advantage of the wealth of technological advances that had resulted in the ensuing decades. Since this falls into the Raga rock camp it goes without saying that the sitar is a predominant sound encountered in this album's run however what's unexpected is that this is equally a space rock album with techno drum and bass percussive drive with lots of ambient electronic effects as well.

Sounding like something between the 90s bigbeat Prodigy and more downtempo Portishead, this could easily have been played at a more chilled out gig in Ibiza with all the spring break college students smashed on E dancing their asses off like there's no tomorrow. Add to that a serene and chilled out church organ that slinks alongside the hyperactive beat adding a smoothed out chill zone. Also predominant are erratic fluttering electronic effects, another 90s trait. The production and mixing are masterful.

The vocals are quite subdued and even buried beneath the mix and the album comes across more as a DJ's tribute to an era passed as it certainly sounds more 90s than classic Indo-raga from the heyday of its popularity. This is definitely party music here. Not the the unhinged raves where the cops bust down the door and break out the firehoses but rather the nice house parties where friends come over to chill out and perhaps play Pictionary!

While the fusion of electronica and ethnic influences is certainly nothing new and especially in the 90s when whole compilations such as the outstanding Buddha Bar series exhibit similar sounds, SATURNIA is quite unique in how the drum and bass interacts with the organ, theremin, piano and sometimes off kilter no wave type guitar runs such as on my favorite track "Sculptress Sublime." While one can chill out and pay no attention to this music, the subtleties are quite attention getting. Really only the last track is bombastic. The rest is a cloud ride through the skies on that magic carpet ride. Nice!

 In Blissful Company by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.26 | 38 ratings

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In Blissful Company
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars Many roads in rock and pop music since the 60s lead back to The Beatles and the fertile cross-pollination of Indian music with Western rock was one of the more popular ones following the Fab Four's brief stay at an ashram in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as their guru. Once George Harrison recorded his famous "Within You Without You" on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, the genie was out of the bottle and suddenly every musician was incorporating some sort of Indian reference in their music. While some rockers were content to simply find a spiritual guru, other's like the London based QUINTESSENCE went all the way and developed their own unique mix of jazz and psychedelic rock with progressive touches all completely infused with musical influences from India including full on chants, Indo-raga droning effects and of course the mandatory sitar and percussion. They were known for energetic and dynamic live performances.

The popularity of the whole East meets West thing grew so fast and so big that bands like QUINTESSENCE were literally snatched up after only performing a few gigs. The original line-up included Sambhu Babaji (bass guitar), Maha Dev (rhythm guitar), Shiva Shankar Jones (vocals, keyboards, percussion), Jake Milton (drums, percussion), Allan Mostert (lead guitar), and Raja Ram (flute, percussion), the last of which chose the name of the band implying a five unit quintet despite the band actually consisting of six members. Keeping with the trend, the band members were actually christened by Swami Ambikamanda who was the band's spiritual guru. Right from the bat the band had multiple record contract offers and chose the less lucrative route with Island Records because of the fact they could retain creative control.

The band's debut was released in 1969 at the height of the Indo-rock craze. The album contained eight tracks with most displaying the band more as rockers rather than Indian fusionists since the majority of the tracks are fairly typical and unfortunately rather dated sounding psychedelic rock songs from the era that implement a standard rock, bass and drum base with a passionate sort of Tom Jones vocal bravado. While firmly steeped in rock, the sitar, flute and occasional Indian percussion do add an exotic flare to their sound which for the time was fairly innovative (save The Beatles notwithstanding). Interspersed amongst the rock oriented grooves are segments that delve completely into the Indian spiritual practices such as the fifth track "Chant" which takes the listener on a psychedelic journey into the ashram for a musical meditation. Likewise the album's closer "Midnight Mode" ushers the album out in a mystical mode with more transcendental chanting and Indo-raga droning effects.

While other Indian inspired bands like John McLaughlin's Shakti were pioneers of stunning virtuosic fusion, QUINTESSENCE was a pure hippie band through and through with garage band musical talent, rather cheesy pan-continental fusion and an overwrought vocal style that seemed more fitting for the Las Vegas strip rather than a fitting tribute to Bollywood. The guitar delivers a rhythmic drive for the rock aspects and occasional bursts out some soloing as heard in "Manco Capac," but don't expect Jimi Hendrix or anything even close. One of the most pleasant aspects of the music is the sensual flute runs that sound to me like they could have inspired the flute aspects of Comus' masterpiece "First Utterance" as the style is actually quite similar although not nearly as accomplished. My buddy Ashratom (from Rate Your Music) nailed it when he pinpointed the band as a major influence on Marupilami as the vocal style, flute sounds and other aspects seemed to be primary influences in their more adventurous form of progressive rock a year later.

IN BLISSFUL COMPANY, as many others have stated, is well, rather dated! This is a period piece if there ever was one. This is not something i would choose to listen to on a regular basis. While some Indo-raga and Eastern influenced albums of the day were transcendental beyond the zeitgeist of the era and still retain an avant-garde aura, QUINTESSENCE sounds like they came out exactly when they did, namely the tail end of the 60s in the midst of the drug fueled psychedelic days of the hippie era. To be fair, the band had only just begun and immediately thrust into the studio to record this debut and they apparently were not ready for prime time. While they would improve their musical chops on subsequent albums, they would experience less than peace and love filled episodes that would cause them to slowly splinter off into irrelevance. Despite playing alongside bands like The Who and Mott The Hoople, QUINTESSENCE never quite caught on within the larger rock world. Perhaps things happened too soon for them to catch the right wave. Interesting as a relic from the era. Not a bad album but not great either.

 Third Ear Band by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.38 | 42 ratings

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Third Ear Band
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars While initially forming out of the ashes of a band called Hydrogen Jukebox, percussionist Glen Sweeney switched gears to form THIRD EAR BAND, which was created to improvise Indo-raga type droning effects with freeform instruments that swirl like insects around the percussive drive. The band found success as they signed a three record album deal with Harvest Records. The debut release "Alchemy" displayed a totally unique form of musical experience that was part Indo-raga, part Medieval folk and part schizoid avant-garde bizarr-o-rama weirdness. Despite the completely freaked out nature of the album, this was the late 60s, a time when Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart were finding their day in the sun, and THIRD EAR BAND offered yet another mind altering musical experience to the impressive legacy of the era.

The second album, simply called THIRD EAR BAND continued the freeform improvisational setting of the debut album albeit in a slightly more accessible form, if accessible is the right word. By that i mean that this eponymous sophomore release is more structured and more tamped down by a steady percussive drive that sound to me like some sort of talking drums having conversations with one another. There are only four musicians. Percussionist Glen Sweeney, Paul Minns alternating between oboe and recorder, Richard Coff alternating between the violin and viola and Ursula Smith exemplifying her best cello torturing skills, however nothing on this second release is as far out and startling as the debut.

While eponymously titled, the album is affectionately called "Elements," that being due to the fact that it contains four tracks referencing the main elements of the Earth from antiquity. Those being of course: "Air," "Earth," "Fire" and "Water." Each track presents a musical motif that generates the overall vibe of the corresponding element. Therefore, "Air" is somewhat quickened like a vaporous gas with a heavy percussive drive and loose woodwind and string structures that are as formless as the clouds in the skies above. "Earth" is more grounded and sounds more like a Middle Eastern oasis stop with Arabian musical scales augmented by a rather Celtic sounding fiddling session that ratchets up ever slightly until it is fully caffeinated by the end of its near ten minute run.

"Fire," as expected is, well, fiery. This is the most avant-garde track on the album. While it utilizes the same steady percussive drive, it presents a cacophonous series of counterpoints like flickering flames in a campfire. The oboe provides an incessant drone while the recorder bounces around like a cauldron of popcorn at a movie theatre. Likewise the violin and cello are screechy and buzzing around each other like drunken bees on psychedelic honey. "Water" ends as the shortest track (just barely over seven minutes) and provides a nice relaxing counterpoint to the frenetic nature of "Fire." The drone enters and sustains uninterrupted for a long period. It is joined by ocean waves which i assume are field recordings. The percussion enters but is far gentler than any other track. Likewise the strings and wind instruments join in harmony as they gently unify to create a melody. This one offers a strange Celtic vibe with Medieval folk as the oriental influences have dissipated.

While far more adventurous than the average rock band of the 60s, "Elements" does tame down THIRD EAR BAND's bombastic display of their debut "Alchemy" quite a bit. Although staunchly avant-garde, this one has a smoother and more mature display of the musical flow. While some may deem this too repetitive or even dare i say, boring, i find this to be quite meditative. It has a passive beauty with the complexities shining through on the dissonant freeform counterpoints of the strings and woodwinds. It's also easy to hear how THIRD EAR BAND's improvisation style built on droning rhythmic flows of percussion were antecedents to the electronic pioneers of industrial as well as the more artistic angularities of post-punk especially in the no wave world. While not as adventurous as the debut, this one has a charm all its own in how it flows in a more controlled fashion. Another great album by THIRD EAR BAND.

 Dance Of The Cozmic Warriorz by ZENDIK, WULF album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.13 | 13 ratings

BUY
Dance Of The Cozmic Warriorz
Wulf Zendik Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Wulf Zendik was an American author, musician, philosopher, poet and commune leader. His tribal community was in Texas and the word Cult certainly gets mentioned in reference to to this. He passed away in 1999 but his commune lives on apparently. They believed in protesting in an artistic way not with guns or violence. Sex, drugs and rock and roll you could say. His last name(not his real name) means outlaw or heretic and he was anti-establishment, anti-government for sure. This six piece band must have practised a lot because they are really good. His band was known as the ZENDIK FARM ORGAZTRA. Some exotic instruments are in play here including his own made up instrument similar to a saz. He plays flute and sings. His vocals remind me of the singer from COMUS with that sheep-like, quivering style. Really good.

The year of that this was released can't be confirmed but I've seen 1988 in another place besides here so I'm going with that. And yes a top three for that year right now. We get just under an hour of Psychedelic music, very trippy at times with vocals on 4 tracks. "Yang Yin" is the almost 14 minute opener that has a distinct "Spirit In The Sky" vibe with that rhythm and distorted guitar. He sings about snorting crystals, smoking outrageous weed and drinking black blood. Alrighty then. He gets pretty passionate with his vocals and they really are incredible.

"Farm Jam" has lots of percussions and an exotic vibe as well. Catchy stuff although those loud ear piercing sounds before 5 1/2 minutes I could do without but they are brief. "The Kiss" is kind of creepy actually lyrically. We get keys and what sounds like an upright bass on this one instead of the bass guitar everywhere else on here. "Madman" is really uptempo with vocals. Check out how passionate he sings late to end it. Excellent.

"Danze Of The Cozmic Warriorz" is an almost 11 minute Krautrock inspired piece, very trippy and my favourite. We get flute over top and fuzzed out guitar in this all instrumental jam. "Lets Get Stoned" is uptempo with exotic sounds as Wulf sings about getting stoned on the farm. Very repetitive but really good. "Inzanity" ends it and this is the heaviest tune with screaming sounds over top. A trippy beat with distorted guitar. What a closer!

while I completely disagree with what this commune represented I'm rating the music alone and man this just connects with me. I real surprise actually and quite refreshing to hear something a little different from the norm.

 Sound Awareness by BROTHER AH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.79 | 5 ratings

BUY
Sound Awareness
Brother Ah Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars Robert Northern or better known as BROTHER AHH is one of those jazz musicians who has been around forever having established himself as long ago as the late 50s after a classical French horn education at Austria's Vienna State Academy and worked with many of the greats that spanned the 60s, 70s and beyond including Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Don Cherry (as well as many others) but is probably most famous for his run with the great Sun Ra as the french horn player in his Astro-Affinity Arkestra in the early 70s on albums such as "Atlantis" and "Sound Sun Pleasure!!" Northern himself emerged from The Bronx in NYC and also studied at the Manhattan School of Music before heading off to Austria.

While playing his gigs with Sun Ra, Norton was becoming extremely intrigued by non-Western music styles and ultimately visited and studied in Africa throughout the 70s. As well as contributing to a massive number of albums by other artists including John Coltrane's seminal "Africa/Brass" in 1961, McCoy Tyner's "Tender Moments" and Thelonious Monk's "Orchestra In Town Hall" amongst countless other appearances, by 1972 Norton began to release material under his own pseudonym BROTHER AHH with his debut SOUND AWARENESS being released on the Strata East label in 1972 after finding time away from the Sun Ra Arkestra's demanding schedule. Keeping in the spirit of the avant-garde and otherworldly sound that Sun Ra had been developing throughout the 60s and well into the 70s, BROTHER AHH explored similar territories with emphasis on two side-long tracks that included the extradorinaiy talents of Max Roach on drums and his percussion ensemble M'Boom as well as a 90-piece vocal choir. Despite the similarities in approach, the music sounds nothing like the world of Sun Ra and comes off as nothing else i've ever experienced.

Side one (of the original Vinyl LP) consisted of the multi-movement piece "Beyond Yourself (The Midnight Confession) which was broken down into the segments "Introduction," "Rap," "Midnight Confession," "Fear," "Demons," "Morning Song" and "Dawn" that tells the tale of a man's struggle to eschew the temptations in life in order to become a monk. Musically speaking this one delivers an avant-garde mix of minimalistic jazz and flute (both played by AHH) that sprawl into lysergic atmospheric expanses of a sound journey that evokes an ethereal and spiritual vibe. Although the track can sprawl on for lengthy segments, there are moments of spaced out echoey noises with startling shouted lyrics before chilling out into a haunting yet mellow mode again complete with ghostly voices reaching to the heavens (kind of reminds me of the vocals on the theme song from the original Star Trek only much more freaky.) The track gets super freaky as it meanders with intermittent echoing percussive drives, a subdued lugubrious horn section and the aforementioned ghostly vocals. There are also times that the echo effect is so strong that it begins to sound like a whale song under the sea.

Side two consists the single track "Love Piece" which contrasts greatly (towards the end) as it experiments much more with a heavier emphasis on various styles of ethnic percussive styles performed by Max Roach and his ensemble while vocal outbursts serve as a faculty of agitation to instruct the instruments to perform as well as prodding the 90-voice choir to eschew a total breakdown in order. The piece starts out as a single flute solo that is airy and light sounding more like some sort of ancient Japanese koto music from the Edo period with only a few sparse shakers as percussion, but a few minutes in the horn and vocals fire up with the horns dominating at first with fiery interplay between the French horn, the flute and a tuba. Once the percussion kicks in though, all hell breaks loose as Max Roach delivers a poetic rant about desperation and destruction that starts to sound something like a mix of an African-American gospel service and a tripped out Haitian voodoo ritual all dressed up with avant-garde jazzy time signatures, intermittent instrumental accompaniments and a crowd that gets more and more worked up after every spoken word statement.

For anyone into the most freaked out aspects of Sun Ra's works, this will feel right at home and although in the same ballpark isn't an exact replica of that great Ra's style. This is another bizarre mixture altogether of psychedelic lysergia, avant-garde jazz, tribal rhythms and philosophical reflections taking the listener down extended journeys into bizarre soundscapes that paint diverse colors and varied texturized canvases. While Northern would continue to release more of his own works, he would also continue to collaborate with a diverse array of artists in the jazz world and beyond as well as expand his interests in the different ethnic musical styles of the world. On this bizarre debut called SOUND AWARENESS though, he managed to create a completely wild and unrelenting ride from placid detached ethereal soundscapes to a full-on stampede of percussive drive that ends the album in full bombast. This is an excellent album that carries on the Sun Ra type traditions and takes them somewhere that Ra himself never envisioned.

4.5 rounded down

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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
ANDRE FERTIER'S CLIVAGE France
CODONA Multi-National
COSMIC EYE Multi-National
THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE United States
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
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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