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Okko Bekker

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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Okko Bekker Sitar & Electronics album cover
3.27 | 12 ratings | 4 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A day in the life (4:44)
2. Ganges Delta (3:15)
3. Himalaya highway (4:28)
4. East Indian traffic (4:10)
5. If I needed someone (3:07)
6. Shivas lullaby (3:28)
7. Pointed sails on Ganges (6:30)
8. Santana (4:02)

Line-up / Musicians

- Simon Alcott / moog synthesizer
- Okko Bekker / sitar, tabla, moog synthesizer
- Herb Geller / flute
- Peter Hesslein / guitar

Releases information

Okko Records 2005 CD reissue

Thanks to sheavy for the addition
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OKKO BEKKER Sitar & Electronics ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

OKKO BEKKER Sitar & Electronics reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars I honestly didn't have high hopes for this album, considering that I've never been a fan of Indian music or psychedelic music. However, I am a fan of sitars by themselves and electronics. So this turned out to actually be a fantastic listening experience!

I get a strong "lounge music" vibe from this album, but it seems like background music that forces itself into the forefront by being interesting and fun. "East Indian Traffic" features a strong '70s rock riff throughout that adds incredible energy to this album, which I expected to be fairly laid back and boring. Okko plays some fantastic improvisations on the sitar that truly stand out, and the other players on this album play just as well. "If I Needed Someone" is an exceptionally trippy track featuring some very prominent moog phrases.

I wouldn't exactly call this music progressive, but it is definitely interesting and a fun listen. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting and rockier take on the sounds of Indian music. I'm not a fan of Indian music, and if I can enjoy this music as much as I did, I'm sure others definitely will as well.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Who spiked the curry?

A little while back I saw a couple of reviews for this album, and I immediately knew I had seen it before somewhere. The day after I started looking through my old moving box of psychedelic music from the 60s, and what do you know: right beneath my Love Forever Changes record - hidden away for more than 10 years I suspect, was Okko Bekker in his freaky fro with bright purple colors permeating everything. Back when I bought this I practically jumped at anything showcasing some kind of psychedelic tendencies, and some of these albums were unfortunately quickly overlooked for the instant enjoyable, and to be perfectly frank with you: I didnīt have any kind of patience for music back then. It was either great or crap - pure and simple...

Well, Iīve grown older and slightly more mad, and what was once black is now white - and everything is everything. This album certainly floats my boat, and to think that Iīve had this lying in my collection, unheard, for such a long time is almost unbearable - and somehow very cruel to the music. It only lives when we play it right?

Sitar and Electronics is featured here at PA under what might be our most obscure and unvisited genre: Indo-Prog/Raga Rock. Itīs a real shame, because what that really means, is just that somewhere within the album, there might lurk a sitar, flute or some tablas. What you get here is more like psychedelic Krautrock nī Roll which just so happens to feature sitar, flute and tablas...

The Krautrock feel is there, much credited to A. R. & Machines (without the A. R. mind you...), but rather than improvising and jamming like many German acts of the time, - the music here seems more controlled and orchestrated, apart from the small Indian breaks that are sprinkled throughout the album. Funny thing is that the only weak moments there are on this album, is when the music almost entirely is focused on Indian music. Case in point, second track Himalaya Highway, which sounds so confused and meandering, that you begin to question the whole idea of this album. East meets west.

I think itīs down to the way Okko Bekker plays the sitar. Now Iīve grown up listening to a lot of Ravi Shankar during my early teen years, and without knowing too much about traditional Indian music, Iīll stake my former salamander Botox, that his playing is colored by his heritage. He plays like heīs received training from the insides of his momīs belly by Indian gurus and frantic snakecharmers. Okko Bekker on the other hand plays like a guy whoīs been playing an acoustic country western guitar for years trying to emulate Eastern phrasings and such. Suddenly he starts playing the real deal, and there you go. He starts playing western like rock nī roll guitar licks on the sitar - and thereby creating his own sound. You could actually state, that Okko Bekker plays lead guitar on this record, itīs just not a guitar...

The surroundings here are wonderfully muddy drums, -and not like: I canīt hear the bloody things, but more like that wobbly, warm and slightly messy style youīd find towards the end of the 60s. Yeah wonderful mud, thatīs the stuff. Youīll also pick up a modest and at times bluesy guitar that sticks its head out of the bushes once in a while, but every time it does so it sounds so brilliantly. -Mostly functioning like a continuation of the melody laid down by the sitar, but when the sitar runs out of grunt - in need of more lingering and persuasive notes - thatīs when the guitar shows itself like a gentle blues wail from the shadows.

In the shadows lies another thing, that like the guitar, also works very sparsely, and thatīs the moog. That thing clings on to the sitar playing here like a magnet to a fridge. You īll first hear the simple and plucking melody of the sitar, and then like a magical echo, the moog gently reverberates and mimics the notes - like an a capella group without the voices - doing a doo wop.

This record is first and foremost a charming bugger! Itīs not the most groundbreaking album, I mean both The Beatles and The Stones were doing stuff with Indian instrumentation way before this came out, and bands like Quintessence had also been around since 69, - BUT like I said, there is a certain charm to Okko Bekker and his bandits as well. One which supersedes that of any of the formerly mentioned. Reminds me of a little girl with ponytails . Take the cover version of A Day in the Life fx. What some might believe is utterly blasphemic and barf inducing, is actually a fantastic and vibrant rendition - with the sitar and moog alternately taking turns to "sing" the actual lyrics. So " Woke up. Fell out of bed - dragged a comb across my head - suddenly becomes: BIDIUW BIDIUDIW - BIBIDIUOIBIDIIOUW BIDOUW. I love it - the same way I love chili in nougat icecream. It works for unknown reasons... Along with Shivas Lullaby these two are my favorites off the album. The lullaby being a beautiful tranquil track - sounding like a childrenīs music box with yearning soulful voices, softly opening up as tulips in spring.

If you dig psychedelic music, or if youīre interested in Indian instruments used in a non traditional way - then this obscure gem just might be your next best friend. For some reason, I keep picturing this record as the soundtrack of an Eastern version of Jack Kerouacīs On the Road. Sailing down the mighty Ganges exploring this beautiful country in all of its yellow nuances.

Review by J-Man
3 stars The use of Indian instruments in rock music had been done plenty of times by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and such by the time Okko Bekker released this album in 1971, but one could definitely argue that this is one of the best examples of sitar effectively used as a rock instrument. Aside from a few psychedelic textures throughout the course of the album, the sitar is often used for furious soloing over upbeat and heavy riffs - even The Beatles can't claim to have used the sitar the way Okko Bekker does here. Sitar & Electronics is the only album that this lineup ever released, and even though it's a very rare find nowadays, I'd easily recommend it to fans of sixties'-oriented hippie music. While not essential by any means, this is a fun and quirky little album that I've definitely enjoyed listening to.

As implied by the title, Sitar and Electronics is a pretty interesting marriage between the traditional Indian sitar and the moog synthesizer, put together in an upbeat and psychedelic semi-hard rock style. The Beatles are probably the biggest influence here, and Okko actually covers two Beatles tracks ("A Day in the Life" and "If I Needed Someone") on this record. All of the songs are pretty short and straightforward, and even though the music is often used as a vehicle for soloing, it still remains accessible and instantly catchy. All of the musicians here deliver the goods, but I must especially give a nod to Okko Bekker - though I, admittedly, don't know the first thing about playing sitar, it's clear to me that he's got the goods on this album. I'm also a really big fan of the moog textures and solos that Simon Alcott lays down; his ways of effectively using the synthesizer were undoubtedly pretty unique back in 1971.

Sitar & Electronics isn't an album that will blow you away with its stunning originality or terrific compositions, but it's a fun little record that I've enjoyed spinning over the last week or so. Okko Bekker and crew created an enjoyable, if a bit unchallenging, debut with Sitar & Electronics, and I'd easily recommend this to fans of Indian-influenced psychedelic rock. 3.5 stars are well-deserved for this great little obscure gem.

Review by stefro
2 stars A strangely unsatisfying experience this. Multi-instrumentalist Okko Bekker obviously has a thing for Indian music, and here in puts classic psych-pop nuggets such as The Beatles seminal 'A Day In The Life' and Jimi Hendrix's 'Crosstown Traffic' through the sonic sitar blender, resulting in an anaemic set of renditions that add little - apart from a sprinkling of ethnic exotica - to proceedings. If it's raga-rock your after then there are plenty better albums out there, such as Clark Hutchinson's excellent 'A=Mh2' and Magic Carpet's self-titled debut, with 'Sitar & Electronics' actually little more than a novelty covers album. Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about really.


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