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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 | 70 ratings
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
4.15 | 122 ratings
Shakti With John McLaughlin
4.13 | 43 ratings
4.13 | 16 ratings
Zendik, Wulf
3.98 | 35 ratings
4.14 | 12 ratings
Zendik, Wulf
4.22 | 9 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.91 | 32 ratings
Oriental Sunshine
3.86 | 38 ratings
Clark Hutchinson
4.00 | 13 ratings
Shankar, Ananda
3.85 | 25 ratings
Flute & Voice
3.97 | 12 ratings
Robertson, Don
3.93 | 14 ratings
3.85 | 21 ratings
5.00 | 2 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.81 | 25 ratings
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
4.00 | 8 ratings
α Ω α
3.85 | 14 ratings
Alford, Clem
4.25 | 4 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.79 | 20 ratings

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

Third Ear Band
Habibiyya, The
Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble, The
Clivage, Andre Fertier's

Latest Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Music Reviews

 Dance Of The Cozmic Warriorz by ZENDIK, WULF album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.14 | 12 ratings

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
3.86 | 3 ratings

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

 Ananda Shankar by SHANKAR, ANANDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 39 ratings

Ananda Shankar
Ananda Shankar Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars ANANDA SHANKAR has a recognizable name if you are familiar with the extended family tree of the great Indian musician Ravi Shankar. ANANDA was the son of the famous dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar and the nephew of the great Ravi Shankar himself. During the latter part of the 60s, the world music cross-pollination effect was en vogue with extra interest in the exotic sitar ragas of the ancient land of India. ANANDA followed the family tradition and became classically trained on the sitar and left his native Bombay (now Mumbai) and headed to California in the USA to hop on the bandwagon of the craze of ethnic rock fusion that was initiated by the sounds he heard from The Beatles on their 1965 track "Norwegian Wood." While the West, particularly The Beatles had begun to flirt with adding Indian sitar to rock sounds, ANANDA SHANKAR would become one of the first Indian musicians to reciprocate this process and one of the very first Indian musicians to start shmoozing with the greats of the time like Jimi Hendrix.

All of this Western exposure ultimately led ANANDA to create the very first rock (well loosely speaking) album by an Indian sitarist which was released in 1970 when he hoped to capitalize on the increasing popularity of the raga rock trend of the era. On his eponymously titled debut release, ANANDA created a mix of rock music with moog synthesizers and Indian Hindustani classical music with instruments such as the sitar and tabla. The album starts off with a couple of instant attention grabbing covers of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones and "Light My Fire" by the Doors which while admittedly are a tad gimmicky are quite excellent performances. However, despite the obvious temptation of just making an album of covers, ANANDA performs six other original tracks which admittedly sound closer to the Indian side of the equation than the rock with tracks like "Metamorphosis" completely dependent on sitar and tabla interactions albeit with a strong bass line and an infused burst of rock energy.

While the majority of the tracks are kept short and well within the attention span of the average pop rock listener, the track "Sagar (The Ocean)" sprawls out to over 13 minutes and 13 seconds and is a whole different league of psychedelia as it has the time to slowly unravel a mysterious and atmospheric sitar and moog collaboration into a Hindustani classical music experience wrapped around a simple organ scale that repeats as the sitar grows more restless and performs ever increasingly more dynamic finger gymnastics. Although the track creeps along, it gains strength towards the end with a heavy percussive drive and a fully caffeinated sitar. While the album is almost entirely instrumental, the beginning "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and final track "Raghupati" is chock full of vocals which includes a full chorus. The latter also has different styles of traditional Indian chanting as well as perhaps the most rock sounding compositional style of any track except for the two covers.

While the term rock attached to this may be hard to swallow for Western ears, it should be remembered that this is the exact opposite approach of bands such as the Beatles who dressed up rock songs with Indian instruments. This is at its heart Hindustani traditional classical ragas that have flavors of rock, not necessarily in the instrumentation per se but rather in light touches of compositional approach and energetic drive especially in the Moog organ department. While i was always in the opinion that this was a cheesy attempt of 60s pop rock fusion only by having sampled the two covers, this is in face a fairly sophisticated and stylistic display of Indian music crafted with eerie electronics and a rock infused work ethic.

While this doesn't quite reach the heights of John McLaughlin's works with his Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti for complexity, it is a beautiful mix and an interesting snapshot of the time and era when the Indo-raga rock trend was at its peak. While much raga rock of the day seems to be grounded in a droning technique, the debut release of ANANDA SHANKAR is a brilliant mix of traditional Hindustani classical raga techniques and Western pop rock which makes this a lot more accessible upon first listen for the majority of listeners. This one straddles the line between secular and transcendental and is quite the compelling listen.

 The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble by ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE, THE  album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 5 ratings

The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble
The Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars While sometimes nestled into the world of psychedelic folk and even Indo-raga surrealism, the musical entity called THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE was actually more of a complex avant-garde type of third stream ambient band that based its music on flow energy and the dream state experience. Initially forming in Baltimore, MD, they relocated to Millbrook, NY and then settled in New London, CT. The group was formed in 1970 by the two founders Joe Clark (sax and keyboard player) and Rusti Clark (viola and guitar player) and no they were not related. The band also consisted of Michael Smith on percussion and Wall Matthews on guitars, keys and percussion. They would also add different flavors of exotic instruments. While the music more than stands up on its own, it was actually designed to be performed in theaters in combination with dance ensembles in order to create a visual and auditory union.

The band released three albums with the first two appearing on the Smithsonian Folkways label. The eponymous debut was released in 1973 to mostly positive reviews which touted the group as being highly original and a breath of fresh air in the oversaturated experimental music market. The music itself was designed to accompany the universe of avant-garde theatre and dance and was built on both lengthy and short acoustic improvised ecstatic pieces. They were renowned for their magical live performances but even without the visual accompaniments, THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE did indeed create some of the most unique and complex musical experiences of the early 70s outside the context of progressive rock itself (which this outfit is loosely associated with). The band itself consider their music a form of avant-garde experimental pre-ambient that offers a nice hermetic-poetical-exotic flavor.

Personally i'm actually stumped as to how to label this bizarre musical experience myself. Avant-garde definitely covers it, but as we all know, that is a term designated for the unclassifiable and for the type of arts that exist in a realm unoccupied by others. Throughout this nine track album parades a whole plethora of musical styles and genres neatly wrapped into one. One constant is the acoustic unplugged nature of the band however beyond that simple classification, the genre twisting is quite eclectic. There seems to be traces of Western classical, bona fide Indo-raga (in the opener "Piece for E-Flat Soprano Saxophone, Guitar, and Thumb Piano), jazz, free-form folk, psychedelia and even exotic Middle Eastern scales (as heard on tracks like "Giraffes.") Tracks that lack percussion and focus on complex melodic counterpoint (such as the percussionless "Episode") and those that exclusively rely on percussion such as the aptly named "Percussion Dance" which brings out an interesting array of drum interplay and cymbal action. The vibe can come across as a chamber orchestra such as The Penguin Cafe Orchestra and as experimental as the avant-garde artists of the 60s such as Terry Riley or Harry Partch.

This is a group that i've never encountered until my recent sudden dive into the psychedelic folk and Indo-raga world of the 60s / 70s era and i have to declare that THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE is one of the best groups in these nebulous classifications. They were extremely talented as musicians and could effortlessly fuse all the disparate genres complete with demanding time signature deviations and somehow still retain a free flowing melodic state that was gentle on the ears. Perhaps the closest band i could compare them to would be Codona but that would be only be a generalization since this group was in a league of its own. Listening to this album 44 years after its release only reminds me of how much music i missed out on in the magical era where creative minds flourished and flowed like Angel Falls. The live performances must have been divine since the music segregated from the visuals is quite intricate and beautifully composed. While the psychedelic vibe of the 60s is well retained in the free-form flow of the music, the technical aspects are quite well developed. My favorite combo effect! Highly recommended for those who love 20th century avant-garde Western classical complexities infused with the gentle warmth of traditional folk and world ethnic music.

 Tanyet by CEYLEIB PEOPLE, THE  album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.77 | 17 ratings

the Ceyleib People Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars While the cross-pollination of other cultures was the norm starting in the middle of the swinging 60s with a particular interest from the exotic and ancient lands of India where every celebratory and musician seemed to be in search of their spiritual guru of choice, many musicians jumped on this bandwagon and added the oriental sounds of sitars, tablas and other exotic instruments to their music in hope of finding that perfect bridge of cultures. While The Beatles opened the floodgates with George Harrison's contribution of "Within You, Without, You" on their hugely successful "Sgt. Pepper's" album, the trend actually began a few years beforehand and is properly credited to Sandy Bull who explored the drone guitar tunings in her folk music as early as 1963. By 1966 when the psychedelic scene was taking off like a rocket, so too did the cross-pollinating cultural musical fusion of world ethnic music with one of the primary interests existing in the Hindustani classical music of India which came to be known as raga rock or Indo-raga rock despite the fact that many of the artists who were engaging in this type of music didn't include much rock in the equation.

Amongst one of the earliest of these groups was the Los Angeles based THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE who only released one ridiculously short album called TANYET which came out in December 1967 and has one of the more exotic and memorable album covers of the era. When i mean short, i mean that this album consisted of two sides that totaled a running length of slightly over 23 minutes long which in modern day terms would be classified as an EP but despite the short length, this is actually one of the more interesting raga rock relics of the era which included a fledgling Ry Cooder who only recently got scouted out by Captain Beefheart to perform on his debut album "Safe As Milk." While many raga rock albums of the era tended to focus on droning or two musical words passing the baton to each other, on TANYET there is a true musical fusion of cultures that works out quite well. With an ensemble of ten musicians, the group consisted of traditional rock instruments such as guitar, bass, drums and keyboards along with the more exotic sitar (with 3 players), tamboura and even some woodwinds.

TANYET is roughly divided into two parts. "Part 1" begins more as a blues rock tune with Ry Cooper wailing away heavy guitar riffs that fade out and give way to the sitar and woodwinds and carries on for awhile as cosmic raga vibes permeate the sound and induce a hypnotic trance. After a while an almost Bollywood type melody emerges which allows the blues rock guitar to flourish alongside the sitar and percussive jams without sounding like each is competing for sonic domination. The symphonic counterpoints to the percussion become more detached and independent until the track suddenly changes to a woodwind and sitar duet but the symphonic keys return to echo the melody. Each part is subdivided into six subparts so they change the mood and dynamics as they transfer to the next. There are very few vocals on this one and towards the end there's even a Western classical outburst to end "Part 1" with a Paganini type of violin solo.''

"Part 2" sounds more like traditional raga music as it emulates a Ravi Shankar type of unaccompanied sitar composition. After a transition the blues guitar dominates with rock styled drumming but it sounds like a sitar is trying to adapt in the background and occasionally stands out. As the part continues the same general patterns where it successfully mixes up the Western and Eastern sounds which alternate and fuse randomly. In general sitars may introduce a theme or vice versa with blues guitars and the other side joins in to fulfill the melodic development. TANYET is somewhat of an obscurity but not super rare. The album was released several times and even on CD where it contained the album played twice with a different mix. The videos on YouTube are a mess as i really had to piecemeal the whole thing together to hear this in the proper order.

It was very much en vogue in the day to take popular music and do raga versions of them, but THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE did an excellent job of eschewing the cliches and conjuring up a nice multi-cultural mishmash of American and Indian sounds that work quite well together. True that the album does sound like a bunch of hippies of the era getting together to jam without taking the time to instill any sort of technical wizardry and production details, but personally that's what i find interesting about this type of music. It feels like a raw jam session that transports me back to an authentic feeling of a certain era. While the genre would continue on and would arguable peak with John McLaughlin's led Shakti in the 70s, THE CELEIB PEOPLE created a tiny but authentically sounding relic of the era that sounds exactly what you would imagine raga rock to sound like if you had never experienced it before.

 Alchemy by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.08 | 40 ratings

Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars The year 1969 was amazing year of explosive experimentalism in every direction with artists like Cromagnon, Amon Duul II, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper and not to mention prog classics like King Crimson and East Of Eden hitting the marketplace leaving listeners grasping for new nomenclature to slap onto the hitherto unheard sounds spewing forth. While free-form and improv were certainly nothing new having been a staple of the jazz world for decades, the rock scene was relatively new to the game and the freedom that the 60s offered gave a green light to artists far and wide to fly their freak flags as high as they could possible fly.

One such band was the THIRD EAR BAND which was formed by Dave Tomlin who participated in free-form jazz sessions at the London Free School and took the show over to the famous UFO Club where he would solicit a free-form group of audience members and band members after hours to engage in spontaneous jams around Indo-raga, European folk, Medieval classical and experimental styles. While they gained the name Giant Sun Trolly, they soon attracted the attention of the EMI Harvest label, changed their name to THIRD EAR BAND and found minor success with their first two albums. This debut ALCHEMY displays all the styles that they set forth in the club scene in all their improv jam session freedoms and laid down to tape.

While loosely tied in with progressive rock, this isn't rock at all but rather a strange mix of tribal percussion such as chimes, tabla and hand drums, chamber rock style oboe along with violin, viola and cello and other strange instruments such as slide pipes. This first album was actually promoted by the great DJ John Peel who contributes jew's harp on a couple tracks. The music flows much like an Indian raga in a linear way with the percussion keeping a constant rhythm while the strings and winds are allowed to float off into a fantasy world as they create fluttering melodies and build up tension until they transmogrify into too-fast-to-hear-individual- notes-ish type droning. The recorder seems to bring about the Medieval flavor which makes this album sound sort of like a Indo- raga prototype of Gryphon's first album.

While ALCHEMY may have come as a shock to the rock'n'rollers engaged in the psychedelic branch of the genre at the time, in reality it wasn't overly different in approach to what Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra were dishing out on their most outlandish albums at the time. Sun Ra would regularly use similar sounding tribal drumming with his improvised jazz section with similar bouts of dissonance and avant-garde compositional structures. THIRD EAR BAND takes a similar approach with more of a classical chamber ensemble of instruments that creates thick and impenetrable counterpoint melodies between the string section and the woodwinds. The tension is thick and it all comes across as a war march through the streets of the capital city (wherever that happens to be) as to rally the troops for an impending attack on a neighboring city state. Somehow they manage to keep a Medieval sort of feel throughout.

ALCHEMY was one of the earliest forms of psychedelic freak folk that showcased dueling woodwinds, completely unhinged violin and viola freak outs alongside meditative percussive beats. While most of the tracks adhere to that description, the near ten minute "Egyptian Book Of The Dead" sounds more like an early electronic industrial album as it creates and eerie atmospheric soundscape out of chimes and woodwinds that sound like the wind revealing esoteric knowledge in coded form. The track builds tension as the instruments come to life and eventually a sort of Native American powwow beat occurs but the crazy noises that come out of the cello are startling and totally frightening! This track is totally unhinged and the most successful at totally freaking me out with all the demonic tones, squeaks and frenetic entropy breaking out at the speed of light. The drums ratchet up the tension as the track nears completion as the squawking swarm of instrumentation begins to sound like a plague from hell ready to consume all of reality. OMG! I can't take it anymore. This has to be the scariest and most intense track of all the 60s!

After all is said and done, THIRD EAR BAND leave you feeling like you've heard something that you have never experienced before and even well into the 21st century, i still have never heard any other artist that sounds even close to the style that they displayed on their debut album ALCHEMY. While the band would change things up over time, this early artifact is a gem of avant-garde musical improv expression and most likely one of the major influences of many of the free-form electronic thinkers such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil and Nurse Without Wound that would take a similar stylistic approach only direct it into the world of electronica rather than the Medieval freak folk instrumentation. This is certainly a jarring one, but a totally unique musical experience that only could have come out in the completely tripped out year of 1969. While not as musical as Comus or Spirogyra, this one more than makes up for its lack of compositional complexities with clever sprawling drone inspired raga marches.

 Vertical Approach by 500MG album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.04 | 5 ratings

Vertical Approach
500mg Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars The band Bardo Pond comes from Philadelphia, PA and led by the brothers Michael and John Gibbons. The band has pumped out a number of albums that could be classified as either space rock, acid rock, post-rock, shoegaze, noise or psychedelia. They explore long and hypnotic soundscapes that are characterized by droning guitars, distortion like there's no tomorrow, feedback loops and reverb and lots of techniques to incorporate noise while a soothing hypnotic bass line provides a beacon of light in the murky fuzzy haze. While the band are fairly prolific in their own right, it's the multitude of side projects that will blow your mind. The Gibbons brothers are involved in Vapour Theories, Baikal, Third Troll, Alumbrados, Alasehir and the band of this review's interest 500 MG.

As 500MG the band have so far released three albums and as the album cover on their debut VERTICAL APPROACH suggests with a dosage recommendation next to a psychedelic species of mushroom, this is indeed an album that is designed to be introspective and very much meant to be played in the company of a health brain chemistry meltdown of sorts. The music is led by acoustic guitar riffs that are lazy and spaced out with the added effects of sitar, loop effects and tripped out vocals. As with most of these free folk and drone inducing psychedelic type albums, this one is quite hypnotic and meditative and the emphasis is on the escapist pacification rather than compositional prowess of any sort.

While the tracks are mostly the same in their soft and lullaby inducing guitar techniques, 'Condition Of A Trance' stands out with its startling electronic 'chirping' that begins the track before it subtly becomes overpowered by lush and tranquil acoustic guitar chords that sputter along in somewhat off-kilter time signatures but never with anything as freaky as the introductory electronica. Overall this is a nice meditative slice of transcendental weirdness but in the end it's the type of music that anyone with a bag of shrooms, a few instruments and some recording equipment couldn't pump out in less than an hour. While effective in its intent, it's the type of stuff i've heard a million times and doesn't have anything special to stand out. In this aspect they are very much like Acid Mothers Temple where they pump out album after album of similarly sounding trips to planet mondo bizarro.

 Imaginations Of Light by FLUTE & VOICE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.85 | 25 ratings

Imaginations Of Light
Flute & Voice Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars The late 60s saw a huge increase in cross-continental musical interest when The Beatles went on a little ashram retreat in India and suddenly gave a green light for the world to incorporate world ethnic music into pop and rock after their self-titled white album hit the market. After the initial British explorations, it seems that it was the German bands who took this cue and really expanded their tentacles into every nook and cranny of influence regarding the traditional sounds of the world. While many of those influences would end up in the burgeoning scene of Krautrock of the era, there were a few artists who would take those same visions of global fusion and run with them only in their equation the rock part was left out.

Coming from the Mannheim region of Germany, two musicians decided to collaborate and create softer and less harsh renditions of world music accompanied by Western styles such as jazz guitar accompaniments and Western musical elements. This duo known as FLUTE & VOICE was Hans Reffert who contributed the FLUTE part of the duo and Hans Brandeis who provided the VOICE. While the name is somewhat misleading considering their sole album IMAGINATIONS OF LIGHT (from the 70s) is chock full of guitars, recorders and sitar however it does indeed contain an ample supply of the elements in the artist moniker.

The original 1971 release contained only four long tracks however the 2006 re-issue had seven extra bonus tracks (that i have not heard). The title track starts things off and is the longest clocking in at over thirteen minutes and makes an extensive use of the sitar as the main melodic instrument of choice. This track sounds like it was inspired after a Ravi Shankar show with a droning sort of raga based compositional style that is fortified by chanting wordless vocalizations with a touch of reeds complementing the melodic counterpoints. "Thoughts" is more of a jazz guitar oriented track with lots of meanderings into vague and angular territories. The guitar basically noodles on in jazz mode for over ten minutes surrounded by ambience.

"Resting Thinking About Time" is a lot more interesting of a track as it incorporates jazzy guitar chords with a bluesy riff and a the most interesting vocal performance of the album with Brandeis creating an interesting off-kilter melody and a diving atmosphere of spiritual wakefulness. My favorite track on the album. After a two track escape from sitar, the sultry stringed instrument makes a reprise on the final "Notturno." This track is rather a mix of the sitar with the intro and then jazz guitar as it commences. The vocals provide a transcendental background as the guitar adds a zigzagging sort of path. The sitar also serves as an intermittent counterpoint to the guitar. This one is my next preferred track on the album.

My impression of IMAGINATIONS OF LIGHT is that these guys were passionately inspired by the musical world that was unfolding around them and particularly taken in by the exposure to the ancient wisdom and traditional sounds of the Indian subcontinent however for all this passion, there seems to be a lack of musical cohesion between all of the tracks and an overt lack of originality in interpreting these disparate influences. Being somewhat well versed in both traditional Indian classical music as well as jazz, the Indian parts seem very respectful of the traditional culture but not very adventurous either. Similarly with the jazz part as the guitar often sounds like a sedated Joe Pass.

Ultimately the album comes off as too disjointed and complex to serve as a meditative type of album and yet not adventurous enough in its scope to add that extra spark of creativity to pull off the synthesis of styles these guys were aiming for. Overall it's definitely a tripped out album although it only makes me think of infatuated hippies who had their minds blown by reading the Bhagavad Gita and took up Indian music but didn't quite reach primetime in the compositional construct department. I love the album cover but the musical experience is neither brilliant nor offensive. A nice obscurity from the era that is worth the chance to check out but not something i find compelled to track down either.

 Move Into The Light The Complete Island Recordings 1969 - 1971 by QUINTESSENCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
4.92 | 3 ratings

Move Into The Light The Complete Island Recordings 1969 - 1971
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Einwahn

5 stars Despite the quarter of a century gap, there are analogies between Quintessence and the later English band Kula Shaker. The music of both is distinctively imbued with Indian sounds and religious themes, but the core sound is late 60's psychedelic rock (a 'retro' character for only one of them, of course). Both bands enjoyed meteoric popularity for about three years and then vanished, sadly for good in the case of Quintessence (though Kula Shaker re-formed and I highly recommend their 'K 2.0' of 2016).

Quintessence's first album 'In Blissful Company' was released in the same year and on the same Island label as the King Crimson debut, and its producer John Barham was a collaborator on George Harrison's forthcoming 'All Things Must Pass'. Quintessence albums followed in each of the next two years, a self-titled release in 1970, and 'Dive Deep' in 1971, which reached #22 and #43 in the UK albums charts. Their association with Island Records ended unhappily due to failure to arrange a tour to the United States, and the band did not last much longer.

Esoteric Records have now released re-mastered editions of the three Island albums as a double CD. These vintage classics are seriously under-reviewed on Prog Archives, so I'll try to summarize them for anyone considering exploration, terming the albums IBC ('In Blissful Company'), Q ('Quintessence') & DD ('Dive Deep'). Each album contains tracks of diverse types, and you would need to appreciate all of them. First and best, there are absolutely spell-binding sedate and spiritual songs, clearly involving Barham's inventive touch, with superb vocals, flute, guitars and drones. Examples are 'Manco Capac', 'Midnight Mode' (IBC), 'High on Mt Kailash', 'Prisms', 'Twilight Zones' (Q), and 'Dance for the One' (DD). These are must-hear tracks for anyone. Also winners are the wild guitar-burn tracks 'Burning Bush' and 'St Pancras' (Q).

Then we have a couple of track types that are potential negatives for some tastes, and this probably accounts for the underwhelming consensus PA ratings of Quintessence albums. There are straightforward Hare Krishna-style chants, namely 'Chant' (IBC), 'Shiva's Chant' (Q) and 'Sri Ram Chant' (DD). I really like these, but admit they are not standard rock fare. Then there are 60's pop tracks written for an era fixated on chart hits, most notably 'Notting Hill Gate' (IBC) with its B-side 'Move into the Light', 'Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga' (Q) and 'Dive Deep' (DD). The above represent the musical boundaries of these Quintessence albums, but there is much interesting material occupying the spaces between.

Digressing back to Kula Shaker, I note there have been Forum discussions on whether to include this band in Prog Archives, each time reaching the wrong conclusion. The so-called Indo-Prog/Raga Rock sub-genre on Prog Archives is presently very weak and obscure (and this remark comes even from a Krautrock fan). Even Wikipedia describes Kula Shaker as a 'raga rock' band...

Verdict: recommended to Kula Shaker fans.

 The Conference Of The Birds by SADDAR BAZAAR album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.73 | 5 ratings

The Conference Of The Birds
Saddar Bazaar Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars The fondly remembered U.K Delerium Records label from the early Nineties housed a diverse and exciting range of artists on its roster, including everything from the Hawkwind-like Omnia Opera, charming Canterbury-styled band Moom, future modern Krautrockers Electric Orange and even the earliest Porcupine Tree recordings from modern prog notable Steven Wilson. Another interesting obscurity was Saddar Bazaar, a British group that blended frequently improvised droning sitar- driven instrumental raga-rock, psych and acid-folk vibes with swampy burning stoner guitars and the lightest of gentle keyboard backings on their captivating debut album `The Conference of the Birds' from 1995.

Opener `Sukoon' carefully sets a template for much of the album, a haze of groaning sitar, sparkling tabla and other exotic ethnic percussion instruments weaving a mellow atmosphere. It's also quietly joyful and embracing here, with the lightest of pristine electric guitar wisps gently reminding of German band Agitation Free's crossover of chilled electric guitar jamming and world flavours on their first two albums from the early Seventies. Both `Arc Of Ascent (Part One)' and `Kiff Riff' add some dusty bending blues, the former powered by chugging Ry Cooder-esque guitars and the latter casting a drowsy spell of multi-tracked sitar strains wrapping around the listener over the top of trilling ambient keys. Side one of the LP wraps on `Garden Of Essence' that takes on a drowsy head-bobbing hypnotic hold before grumbling with stony purpose.

The flip side's `Sukoon (Reflection)' electronically distorts a rambling sitar drone, `Shamsa (Sunburst)' begins life as a short but precious guitar reflection and `Baraka' bounces driven by strident percussion. `Arc Of Ascent (Part Two)' brings back the rumbling blues over spirited synth flightiness (nice quickie uptempo burst in the final moments too!), `Freedom Rider' is a final marshy stoner rocker blast and `Neelum Blue' is a placid and dreamy acid-folk/psych sitar/guitar rumination to gently come down on.

At forty-six minutes it's perhaps slightly overlong and just a little repetitive here and there, and this kind of music would probably work better by focusing on less but longer and further developed pieces (something a reworked version of the group would deliver on their very welcome comeback album `Seventh Valley' in 2016), but it's still an energetic, intoxicating brew of east-meets-west atmospheres, and just a cool album to have spinning in the background.

Three and a half stars...and the cover looks a treat on vinyl as well.

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Indo-Prog/Raga Rock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
500MG United States
CLEM ALFORD United Kingdom
ALUMBRADOS United States
ERIK AMLEE United States
ANDY BOLE United Kingdom
BROTHER AH United States
CODONA Multi-National
COSMIC EYE Multi-National
FIT & LIMO Germany
GHQ United States
THE HABIBIYYA United Kingdom
KALA United Kingdom
KANGURU Australia
MAGIC CARPET United Kingdom
MALACHI United States
PELT United States
VASANT RAI Multi-National
SADDAR BAZAAR United Kingdom
SATWA Brazil
SEVENTH SONS United States
SHANTI Multi-National
JIM SULLIVAN United Kingdom
THIRD EAR BAND United Kingdom
WULF ZENDIK United States

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