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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

The responsibility for the psych/space, indo/raga, krautrock and prog electronic subgenres is taken by the PSIKE team,
currently consisting of

- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree
- Tapfret
- HarryAngel746

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

4.29 | 82 ratings
Fertier's Clivage, Andre
4.10 | 140 ratings
Shakti With John McLaughlin
4.09 | 51 ratings
4.10 | 14 ratings
Zendik, Wulf
3.94 | 42 ratings
4.08 | 12 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.88 | 34 ratings
Oriental Sunshine
3.94 | 16 ratings
Shankar, Ananda
3.85 | 51 ratings
Clark Hutchinson
3.97 | 13 ratings
Robertson, Don
4.20 | 5 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.89 | 17 ratings
Cosmic Eye
4.25 | 4 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.89 | 16 ratings
3.88 | 18 ratings
Alford, Clem
4.00 | 8 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.94 | 10 ratings
Callender, Bobby
3.82 | 26 ratings
3.81 | 29 ratings
Flute & Voice
3.91 | 11 ratings
Ossian / Osjan

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

Fertier's Clivage, Andre
Habibiyya, The
Brother Ah

Latest Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Music Reviews

 Indweller by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.57 | 17 ratings

Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Mortte

4 stars I have started to listen Quintessence quite recently. I have heard bands name earlier, but this summer there came a document from Glastonbury Festival 1971 where they played and that woke my interest. Because there was only one review with one star of this album I decided to make another. In 1972 bands career started to go down. They weren´t satisfied to Island records and refused to go on tour in US, so Chris Blackwell dropped them. They made two albums to RCA, but before "Indweller" recordings band leader Raja Ram fired singer Shiva Shankae Jones and guitar player Maha Dev. It´s not clear who was singing in this their last album.

Starter "Jesus Is My Life" is very funny piece! Maybe they made it seriously, but now it works only a humor song. But direction changes into next one: although "Butterfly Music" is very short, it has really deep atmosphere played by flute, guitar, bass and very gentle drums! It sounds to be from the larger piece, it´s sad they put only so short part of it in this album. "It´s All the Same" is long acoustic song with very warm feeling in it! To me it sounds title piece has taken also from the longer improvisation piece as "Butterfly Music", because it sounds as awesome! "Portable Realm" ends the a-side in acoustic way and has great "late evening"-feeling. "Sai Baba" is mantra song. "Holy Roller" is little bit mediocre song, but has good groove whole through. "On the Other Side Of the Wall" is again very serene and melodic piece with great flute playing. "Dedication" is calm, short acoustic very Indian sounding piece including some mantra. "Bliss Trip" starts with organ, thunder sounds and gong. Soon comes very meditative flute. In the middle there comes beautiful sounding vipraphone. Very holy atmosphere continues whole over six minutes. "Mother Of the Universe" ends album as cheerful way as it starts, it seems to include again some mantra.

I have listened now only once their all albums, but really going to listen them again. I have given four stars to everyone. To me this albums sounds as great as those others. Quintessence was from the begin very spiritual taken influences specially from eastern religions, so if that´s too much for you, you´re not liking this or their any other albums. I haven´t got anything against those philosophies, but it´s the music that I love in this band! Still I don ´t think they made any masterpieces, in every album there are empty moments here and there. Anyway you hear very rare this kind of music these days.

 Muzak by SATURNIA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.17 | 21 ratings

Saturnia Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars "Muzak" was love at first listen and SATURNIA are easily my favourite band from Portugal. Funny I went into town for supplies listening to "The Sound Of Muzak" at one point. Yeah different album. This is the project of multi- instrumentalist Luis Simoes who specializes in the electric sitar but man it's a long list of instruments that he plays on here. He also sings and has five guests filling out the sound including Nik Turner adding flute on track #2 and Daevid Allen adding spoken words on "Syrian" the closer. The depth of sound, the layers, the exotic vibes with the sitar and tambura, that early 70's psychedelic vibe is strong here as in "A Saucerful Of Secrets" and mellotron. Come on! There is some variety but this is fairly uniform which I like. They have released 8 studio albums since 1999 and I have some catching up to do, this is the third release.

"Mindrama" is a great opener bringing FLOYD to mind with that urgent sound with mono-toned, low key vocals. Very much a sign of 1971. He repeats "Mindrama" over and over on the chorus. But man this is experimental to start and finish. This is such an amazing headphone album, the sounds are all over the place. "Organza" continues that vibe and we get Turner adding flute and there's also some guest electric piano that I love. "Kyte" reminds me of that song off that MORTE MACABRE album with a female going "La la la la la...." same here. Catchy stuff. "Infinite Chord" has some delay and sitar and then it explodes into an uptempo groove. Crazy synths and mellotron too along with some wordless vocals.

"Analepsis" opens with what sounds like people playing tennis as guest acoustic guitar joins in then it becomes spacey with vocals. Such a cool and drifting track, I like this one a lot. "Aqua" is powerful to start, experimental too before becoming this flute-led piece late, quite beautiful after 5 1/2 minutes. "Nipple" opens with samples before heavy beats take over and organ. Vocals are laid back as they sing over top, flute too. So much going on instrumentally once again as this plays out. "Utterly Luminescent" has a nice slow heavy beat with sitar and sounds that echo and more. It's dark as soft vocals join in. I really like "Hedge Maze" a trippy tune with echoes and beats, sitar too and vibes. Yes I'm hearing mellotron too. Love this stuff. And what a great way to end the album with "Syrian" the longest track at almost 11 minutes. So much atmosphere and Daevid speaks!

 Hemĺt by HARVESTER album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.86 | 20 ratings

Harvester Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars One of the most confusing bands to come out of Sweden's psychedelic 60s went by many names but featured the same lineup of Torbjörn Abelli (bass), Arne Ericsson (cello), Thomas Mera Gartz (drums), Bo Anders Persson (guitar), Thomas Tidholm (vocals, saxophone) and Urban Yman (violin). This group of musicians first got together in 1967 as Pärson Sound and recorded some of the earliest true psychedelic sounds that removed the catchy pop elements in order to focus on a truly lysergic and mystical mix of psychedelic rock, raga rock, noise, post-minimalism and droning. Although under this band name a double album's worth of material was recorded, it was a bit too far ahead of its time and would have to sit in the vaults for a few decades before finally finding an archival release in 2001.

Next stop for this lineup found the band changing its name to International Harvester which did release one album in 1968 titled "Sov gott Rose-Marie." This project continued the psychedelic folk and rock but drifted more into the world of progressive rock and what would be later named Krautrock. This version of the band proved to be highly influential for all those true trippers who would make the Nurse With Wound List however this band just couldn't decide on a style to settle upon and then once again dropped the "International" part of the moniker and simply carried on as HARVESTER. Under this name the band once again released a single album in 1969 only this time crafted its droning and jam based psychedelic rock around Swedish folk music.

This band would only last for one album before carrying on as Träd, Gräs och Stenar in 1970 after adding some new members. That band would release two albums in the early 1970s before going on hiatus for several decades and reforming at the turn of the millennium. As HARVESTER the band released HEMĹT which jettisoned the more structured compositional style of "Sov gott Rose-Marie" and reclaimed the hypnotic jamming style of Pärson Sound. While some lump this into the world of raga rock for its transcendental freeform flow, the only ethnic influences are homegrown with moments of traditional Swedish folk music. The music for the most part sits comfortable with the Pärson Sound noise jams that offered some of the earliest true psychedelic tips. The Germans would pick up on this and create a fertile music scene of it.

Despite the seemingly detached escapism that the album exudes, HARVESTER was very much a band that promoted Swedish nationalism that tackled the sticky wickets of politics and environmentalism. The album itself was recorded in the Kafe Marx which was owned by the Swedish Communist Party. Consistintg of seven tracks, HEMĹT captured the sounds of the 60s heavy psych world with fuzz guitars, heavy bass and pronounced percussive beats. The addition of the horns, fiddles and cello offer the local folk flavors and the incessant repetitive grooves off minimalist composiitons that for the most part are instrumental but off a few muddled vocal performances such as on "Everybody (Needs Somebody To Love)."

This is decent but less compelling than the psychedelic otherworldliness of Pärson Sound or the much better compositional charm of International Harvester. This is this team's least known album as it has been eclipsed by what came before as Pärson Sound and International Harvester as well as the Träd, Gräs och Stenar that followed and there is good reason for that as this one sounds like an impromptu jam with minimal production and mixing having taken place. While it perfectly exemplifies the wild and experimental psych scenes that were quickly taking over much of European rock, it is hardly essential but a decent lysergic detachment that is well worth the experience once you have checked out the other versions of the band's frequent name changes.

 Dreaming by KANGURU album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.47 | 17 ratings

Kanguru Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars Welcome to roo paradise! Yeah, the Australian KANGURU may have adopted its name from the famous German band Guru Guru's Krautrock epic album but this quintet that featured Ashia White (vocals), Guy Madigan [aka Koalananda] (pakhawaj, tanpura), Paul Gibson [aka Sri Wombat] (sarod, vocals, [14-string] guitar, didgeridoo), Cleis Pearce [aka Clear Light] ([electric] viola) and Keith Manning [aka Professor] (tabla, flute, percussion) was Australia's answer to the raga rock craze that swept the world throughout the latter half of the 1960s and the 1970s.

This band that emerged from Nimbin just south of Brisbane didn't stick around for long and only managed to release its sole album DREAMING before the musical tastes for such occidental meets oriental musical fusion had waned a bit but what a beautiful album these fine musicians left behind! By the latter half of the 1970s John McLaughlin with Shakti had pretty much stolen the show for anything remotely jazz / raga fusion but this band from Australia did an excellent job at crafting beautiful pastoral soundscapes that live up to the album title.

While Shakti delivers an incessant bombast of jazz-raga fusion, KANGURU focused on a more intricate fusion of Indian sounds that included the the sarod, pakhavaj and tabla with other non-indian ethnic instruments such as the the indigenous Australian didgeridoo. Add to that some gypsy folk sounds of the electric viola as well as some lush flute sounds and acoustic guitar occasionally accompanied by vocals and what you get is an interesting interpretation of the raga rock scene from a part of the planet not usually associated with these fertile hybrids.

Cited as a hippie band that is certainly evident in the few lyrics on board with themes of being a rainbow and a moonbeam however this is a mostly instrumental affair and really does evoke a dream state with doesn't really rely too heavily on any particular style of ethnic music. There are definitely some Mahavishnu Orchestra vibes that would evolve in the Shakti universe but the album seems to incorporate various ethnic influences ranging from Indonesian folk music to homegrown aboriginal sounds into a unique tapestry of raga influenced majesty. The sounds experienced on DREAMING are perfectly in line with the om symbol featured on the cover art. The music is non-linear and features some interesting transitions and stylistic differentiations that incorporate jazz and Western classical as well as the Indian and other ethnic sounds.

As far as i'm concerned albums of raga rock nature need to take the listener on a spiritual journey and in the case of KANGURU on DREAMING, that is exactly what transpires through a unique procession of musical motifs that never remain static for too long. While the meditative and transcendental aspects of the album are clearly in tact, so too are those moments of imploring action and promoting periods of growth that eschew stagnation. What makes this sound most like Shakti is the electric viola performed by Cleis Pierce of the progressive jazz-rock outfit MacKenzie Theory that released one album in 1973 however this album really stands on its own two feet and a gem of the Australian underground. As far as i'm concerned this one is extremely successful in crafting a seamless fusion of various ethnic sounds and one of the highlights in all of the so-called raga rock scene of the era.

 Crawling To Lhasa by KALACAKRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.75 | 31 ratings

Crawling To Lhasa
Kalacakra Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars Essentially the duo of Claus Rauschenbach (guitar, congas, percussion, vocals, harmonica, slentem) and Heinz Martin (guitar, flute, piano, vibraphone, shawm, cello, violin, synthesizer) from Duisburg, Germany, KALACAKRA was yet one more obscure act to emerge during Krautrock's fertile first wave, released a sole album and then disappeared into the haze. CRAWLING TO LHASA came out in 1972 during the peak years of progressive rock and while many paths were taken once on the Krautrock highway, KALACAKRA unleashed a bizarre blend of psychedelic folk mixed with the more Amon Duul II side of the Krautrock scene ("Yeti" era) but also added the mystique of raga rock despite the lack of oriental instrumentation.

Living up to its legendary status as one of the most bizarre German acts to drop an album during the early Kraut years, CRAWLING TO LHASA is a tripped out meditative journey that mixes mystical soundscapes with creepy repetitive grooves, whispered German lyrics and surreal allusions to Tibetan Bhuddism. The name KALACAKRA comes from the Tibetan polysemic term in Vajrayana Bhuddism which means both "wheel of time / time cycles" and "patron tantric deity." This music is almost like drifting dirges of smoke fueled sounds that lament the physical state and glorify the states of consciousness beyond the limitations of bodily incarnation.

Despite the rather monotonous procession of grooves, the musical motifs are adorned with a plethora of instrumentation which includes hypnotic guitar grooves, sensual flutes and tortured strings sounds from a cello and violin. Starting off rather slowly, the pace quickens in the middle with "Raga No 11" with fast receptive loops of sound accompanied by crashing cymbals and accented percussive bombast. Ethnic sounds are derived from the Indonesia slentem, a metallophone which looks like a xylophone as well as the medieval shawm which is a double-reed woodwind instrument that was more common in the Renaissance. What seems to be missing is a bass guitar and rock drumming other than cymbals. Percussion if present at all usually is derived from congas and other tribal drumming. Guitars are acoustic.

Sounding closer to medieval folk than raga rock KALACAKRA still carried a vibe heavily steeped in Eastern influences and has been referred to as mantric acid folk. The album is also primarily instrumental with only a few moments when vocals appear. The album is disjointed as the first half of the album is much more interesting than the second which devolves into simple acoustic guitar strumming and flute sounds as well as an unnecessary blues guitar and harmonica number on "Arapaho's Circle Dance." The final "Tante Olga" takes things even further into blues rock territory and by this time these guys seem to have given up CRAWLING TO LHASA and sound more like Captain Beefheart on a drunken binge.

CRAWLING TO LHASA on original vinyl has been quite a collectible since it emerged in the early 70s but has been reissued on CD and vinyl numerous times. This is one of those albums that shows promise but fails to deliver on expectations. The album starts out promising with the opening "Naerby Shiras" and continues for several tracks on a true mystical journey but the album doesn't stay on the oriental express and instead turns into some cheap sounding Krautrock by the album's end. Overall this is certainly one of those obscurities that is well worth checking out. There are some brilliant ideas on here and nothing is inherently bad and unlike many i don't even find it boring. What i do take issue with is the inconsistency of quality as music like this is very easy to derail an intended vibe. Not one i'm going to pay a fortune for but a sporadic listen every few years is totally warranted for the weirdness factor alone.

 Lang'syne by LANGSYNE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.56 | 21 ratings

Langsyne Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars Although formed in 1969 in Bremen, Germany, the trio of Egbert Fröse (guitar, organ, psaltery, koto, sitar, vocals), Matthias Mertler (guitar, percussion, psaltery, banjo, bass pedals, vocals) and Ulrich Nähle (guitar, flute, percussion, vocals) eschewed the entire psychedelic Krautrock scene altogether and instead was more inspired by British folk music more commonly associated with bands like Pentangle or Fairport Convention. The band name LANGSYNE should give a clue to this having come from the Scottish term meaning long ago and these days used all over the English speaking world in the popular New Year's Eve song "Auld Lang Syne."

Existing as a duo for the first seven years, in 1976 when Merler joined the newly formed trio released its self-titled debut which remained the only album until "Langsyne 2" emerged in 2016 on the Garden of Delights label. LANGSYNE's only 70s album was an exclusively acoustic affair which mixed British folk rock with eastern influences that incorporated the Indian sitar and Japanese koto along with other unconventional folk instrumentation such as a banjo, glockenspiel, Jew's harp and organ. The trio performed some excellent vocal harmonies as well with that "i know English isn't their first language" sort of accent but never revealing themselves as German in origin.

Although LANGSYNE didn't really sound German, they have been referenced to other German acts that focused on peaceful folk motifs over lysergic Kraut escapism and therefore often lumped into the German progressive folk scene with Witthauser & Westrupp, Hoelderlin and Broselmachine. What sets LANGSYNE apart from all of the following is that these guys focused on thoughtful contemplative musical arrangements that mixed the instrumentation quite convincingly and the unlikely marriage of banjos with sitars and Jew's harp with organs never seems forced in the least bit. While Indian instrumentation is used in part, LANGSYNE doesn't resonate in the same way that other raga inspired bands does and sort of existed in its own universe. The parts with banjo actually prognosticate to what modern acts like Bela Fleck & The Flecktones would create an entire career out of.

All in all this is a beautiful pastoral musical experience that sort of slips through the cracks of trying to pigeonhole it in any particular way. Yes, it's folk music inspired by the British scene but yet there is definitely a bit of a German sense of adventurism to it. While incorporating the American banjo and Indian sitar, it never drifts too far into the world of American folk or raga rock but rather crafts its own unique brand of meditative music that offered a bit of all influences involved but mostly crafted a nice set of primarily acoustic guitar driven folk tunes with lyrics sung in English. The songs are instantly addictive was the melodic developments are quite brilliant. While bands like Broschelmaschine were much more psychedelic in their folk sensibilities, LANGSYNE was more down to Earth. A nice little slice of the 70s German underground here.

 Ossian (Księga Deszczu Plus) by OSSIAN / OSJAN album cover Live, 1975
3.88 | 13 ratings

Ossian (Księga Deszczu Plus)
Ossian / Osjan Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars Modern day Poland has produced some internationally successful musical artists in recent decades with bands like Riverside, Behemoth, Vader and Mgła finding worldwide success. The communist era of Polish music isn't quite so well known though. In prog circles SBB, Czesław Niemen and Anawa have gained some recognition but there were so many others that still lurk in the misty brume of obscurity. OSSIAN (also spelled OSJAN) is one such band that formed in Krakow in 1971 and still exists to this very day as a band unit.

Known more for their improvised live shows rather than their sporadic album releases, this band has played in unusual venues such as Swedish prisons as well as homeland venues in their native Poland. Unlike many of its prog contemporaries, OSSIAN offered a unique mix of elements that make it hard to classify. Existing somewhere in the hazy nebulous regions where avant-folk, psychedelia, avant-garde jazz and minimalism intersect, OSSIAN has been most known for crafting its own unique style of peaceful and meditative music that while not Indian raga in nature still exudes the same transcendental vibe.

OSSIAN released two self-titled albums back to back in the mid-70s with this one appearing first in 1975. Some claim this to be a live album and other sources cite it as the first studio album. Given there are few audience noises it's impossible to say however given the band's improvisational nature the album was probably recorded live in the studio and therefore allowing both statements to be true simultaneously. This album originally featured six tracks at the standard vinyl playing time but some CD reissues feature two extra bonus tracks adding an additional 18 minutes. There actually is some audience participation sounds on "Księga deszczu VI" but this could be the only track to have been lifted from a live performance.

This is indeed a unique sounding album that only features the three musicians Jacek Ostaszewski on flute and dholak, Marek Jackowski on guitars and drum and Tomasz Hołuj playing tabla, gongs and other percussive instruments. For being improvised music, the tracks seem to have preordained structures that once introduced are allowed to take off into the improvosphere and in many ways brings the improvisational nature of jazz into the world of progressive world of avant-folk.

While melodies are common throughout the album especially with the flute, there are also many droning elements such as the repetitive acoustic guitar riffing and the tribal percussive outbursts of the tabla. At moments the album really does sound like it was inspired by the Indo-ragas of the Indian subcontinent and at other moments reminding a bit more of the Chilean progressive folk band Los Jaivas with especially with some of the flute scales. What's clearly absent from OSSIAN's approach is any trace of Polish or any other Slavic folk influences. The music offers a very escapist approach and unlike prog contemporaries like SBB and Anawa (which featured some members here) doesn't rely on classical music as its parent source of influence.

OSSIAN's members were masters at taking repetitive cyclical rhythmic riffs, grooves and percussion ensembles and ratcheting up the intensity much like much of modern day post-rock slowly works its way up to thundering crescendoes. While an album like this may sound a bit boring on paper, the actual performances are very captivating. This almost sounds like an impromptu drum circle by first rate musicians who happened to bring along a few more instruments where it turned into a bonafide jamming session. While the minimalist approach in composition seems limiting, the interplay has somehow figured out how to alchemize the soul and take you to a higher level of awareness into a cosmic cosnsidcuness expansion.

This is a very interesting album actually. While minimalism can be quite uninspiring and boring, somehow OSSIAN uses the subtle changes in tones, timbres and rhythmic variations to weave a larger than life mediative practice that insinuates the world of Indian ragas but exists in a parallel universe. This is truly a unique style that i've never heard and to think this has been around for almost 50 years and i've never heard it! Of course the Indian instruments do bring the world of Indian raga to mind when they dominate the soundscapes but OSSIAN transcended into a much more esoteric style of mixing everything so beautifully. What an interesting band that has been under my radar for so long despite having heard the name for quite some time now.

 Pop Explosion - Sitar Style by SAGRAM album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.00 | 1 ratings

Pop Explosion - Sitar Style
Sagram Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

— First review of this album —
3 stars Of all the raga rock albums released during the genre's peak in the late 1960s and 1970s, it's this sole album by SAGRAM that can boast the most unbelievable yet interesting story! Essential the same band as the London based Magic Carpet without Alisha Sufit on vocals and guitar, SAGRAM featured Clem Alford (sitar), Jim Moyes (guitar) and Keshav Sathe (tabla) getting their feet wet in the world of raga rock before they added a vocalist and changing the band's name to Magic Carpet.

This album POP EXPLOSION SITAR STYLE is perhaps one of the boldest thefts of musical creativity of the era and despite the tacky album cover insinuating that the music was nothing more than a bunch of Hugh Hefner Playboy seduction tunes, the music featured an authentic jamming session of Indian ragas that the trio played after being invited by the owner of Windmill Records to perform at his studio.

Unbeknownst to the band, the musical session was recorded in 1969 and was released without their consent when it hit the market in 1972. Several years later the band saw this album in a checkout at a local supermarket and released that their music had been stolen and released as a budget discount album! Oh the humiliation! And if that wasn't bad enough the unscrupulous shyster even tarnished the band name by releasing it as SAGRAM instead of the band's REAL name Sargam which refers to a way of assigning syllables to pitches (solminization) in Indian music.

To add insult to injury was the Playboy bunny comforting sugar daddy type album cover however despite this 1969 recording session being hijacked out of the band's control, the album has still become somewhat of a collectible probably due to the its novelty status. Musically speaking there is nothing out of the ordinary on this one. This is an all instrumental affair and features six tracks that add up to over 38 minutes of playing time. What we get here is a bunch of standard raga by the numbers tunes that feature a lead sitar, guitar strumming and tabla percussion.

Belying the hilariously awful album cover, POP EXPLOSION SITAR STYLE is very much an authentic transcendental type of album with rich warm Indian music motifs that add a bit of diversity in tempos and dynamics. The trio were quite skilled at their assigned instruments and the music sounds about as authentically Indian as it gets and although the rock side of the equation of virtually absent, i suppose the underlying compositional flow could qualify as rock since unadulterated Indian ragas tend to focus on improvisation over composition and SAGRAM focused on the latter.

It probably goes without saying that the history of SAGRAM's sole album is more interesting than the music itself. While the music presented offers the timeless beauty of Indian Hindustani classic music with a touch of Western influences, it's not really much of a deviation from simply playing traditional raga music without Western influences. This is basically a trio who has mastered the style in perfect authenticity. While a truly pleasant listening experience, this isn't one of those albums that will blow anybody away for sure. I would call this more of a raga folk album as its all acoustic and only the guitar qualifies as a connection to Western music.

 Shanti by SHANTI album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.14 | 10 ratings

Shanti Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

3 stars The term SHANTI is Sanskrit for "inner peace" and a necessary ingredient in the meditative mantra "Om SHANTI Om," but in addition to that provided the perfect moniker for a short lived world music band from San Francisco that existed from 1970-72 and released this one self-titled album in 1971.

This band was a collaboration between the three classical Indian musicians Zakir Hussain (tabla, dholak, naal), Aashish Khan (sarod) and Pranesh Kahn (tabla, naal) along with the US based rock and jazz musicians Neil Seidel who played with Gary Lewis and The Playboys (lead guitar), Steve Haehl (lead vocals, guitar), Steve Leach (bass) and Frank Lupica aka Francisco who played with The Travel Agency (drums).

The raga rock craze was still in full swing with Ravi Shankar having played at Woodstock in 69 as well as the Monterey Pop festival. While most Western acts such as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were using Indian tones and textures to accent their own style of music, SHANTI was the real deal as far as crafting a fusion that truly bridged the gap between East and West.

SHANTI crafted a very interesting album that stands out amongst its competition. The album features not only traditional Indian ragas such as on the second track "Innocence" but also features more rock oriented tracks like the opening "We Want To Be" and "Out Of Nowhere" which dish out rock vocals, bass and drums but happen to add a bunch of sitar soloing and other ethnic accents.

Like many Indian artists of the era crafting such crossover projects, Khan and Hussain used SHANTI as a vehicle to promote the ancient sounds of India to a world eager to expand beyond its own cultural limitations. While some similar artists from the 60s like Quintesscence, Gabor Szabo, Big Jim Sullivan or The Nirvana Sitar and String Group focused more on the Indian side of the equation, SHANTI seemed to be more interested in the rock side of things.

"Good Inside" for example seems to tamp down the raga aspects until they are practically missing whereas two part title track which weaves a near 15-minute enchanting spell focuses primarily on the raga components. Unfortunately the album feels a bit unbalanced as the rock and raga parts never really fully integrate and rather take turns rather than truly enshroud themselves in true fusion.

In other words the rock tunes only feature Indian accents and the raga parts feature obligatory rock accents such as a rock beat and bass groove. While a lot of the music presented here prognosticates the full fusion firepower of John McLaughlin's Shakti which would come to fruition a few years down the road after the initial success of his Mahavishnu Orchestra, these tracks aren't quite as proficiently melded together so well.

Overall nothing on SHANTI stands out as a waste of time. The ragas are truly enchanting and the rock aspects while generic in a mellow Bad Company sort of way are competent, nothing on here really sets your world on fire either with the possible exception of the excellent two part title track that seems to be firing on all pistons both in the raga department and a Santana-esque rock way as well. Probably not the best example of raga rock but certainly not the worst either. The musicianship though is excellent and worth the price of admission alone.

3.5 rounded down

 Primitive Community by GENSHI-KYODOTAI (PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY) album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.98 | 4 ratings

Primitive Community
Genshi-Kyodotai (Primitive Community) Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

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

4 stars TOSHIAKI YOKOTA is a Japanese flautist who was born in 1944 Tokyo and spearheaded a number of experimental bands since the 1960s. Probably most famous for his project The Beat Generation, he has also been a member of Love Live Life, Takeshi & Sound Limited and this short lived project called PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY also known in the Japanese language as GENSHI - KYODATAI. This sole album from this project emerged in the experimental free-for-all year of 1971 and featured a unique mix of avant-garde jazz, progressive rock and ethnic influences.

This was a huge project actually with seven percussionists, a Hammond organ, guitar, bass, trumpet and of course YOKOTA rockin' the house with his flute and other woodwinds. Initially only pressed with 300 copies, the album's cult status has allowed it find a 2011 reissue on the Think! label therefore much more affordable than the massive price the albums were going for before. The album featured eight tracks, originally titled in the Japanese language but Romanized since. The album itself is completely instrumental except for some spoken, shrieked and shouted vocals from time to time.

PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY may be a lot of things but PRIMITIVE is not one of them. This is some seriously cool avant-jazz mixed with progressive rock and perfectly fits into the psychedelic timeline of the late 1960s / early 1970s. Offering a transcendental type of musical motif which gets the album included in the world of raga rock although there are no Indian influences whatsoever, the album rather relies on a variety of bass led grooves and an army of tribal percussion to craft a festive vibe. Add some occasional acid guitar fuzz and a few bluesy licks along with some Hammond organ heft and it's easy to comprehend on a single listen why this album has held up well after fifty years.

In many ways this album reminds me of a more experimental Santana especially from the 'Caravanserai' era with tight-knit percussive grooves accented by psychedelic rock teased out into more progressive arenas as well as jamming sessions. The difference is of course that PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY featured more jazz sounds with an ambitious trumpet player as well as the folk elements delivered by the incessant flute runs. TOSHIAKI played not only alto and bass flutes but also added the subtle sounds of the piccolo and recorder. The rich percussive session featured not only a rock drummer but several ethnic percussive instruments although no taiko drumming despite being a Japanese group.

There's little to indicate that this project emerged from Japan as it truly sounds like a mix of American avant-jazz mixed with European prog. The album drifts from jazz dominant motifs to drum and bass led rock. At moments when the band breaks into spiritual chants such as on 'Hare Krishna' it starts to sound a bit like a religious sermon but these brief moments give a glimpse into the inner workings of the music which the jazz and rock parts build upon until unrecognizable. Overall this is a highly sophisticated yet enjoyable musical experience that is celebratory in nature and delivers a nice balance of accessible hooks but isn't afraid to go for the experimental jugular either. Early Japanese experimental rock may not be as well known as Western releases but PRIMITIVE COMMUNITY is certainly stands out as one of the better underground releases of the era.

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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
SAGRAM 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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