Rak­shasa

Si­mon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti Slap the Moon Records

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

SCOT­LAND is the source of an in­no­va­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween In­dian and Western mu­si­cians. The de­but pro­ject of a vi­sion­ary Ed­in­burgh-based gui­tarist and three well-matched col­leagues, Si­mon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti,

Rak­shasa strikes an ex­quis­ite bal­ance be­tween tra­di­tional In­dian mu­sic and mod­ern com­po­si­tion while ex­plor­ing the for­mer’s re­la­tion­ship with other gen­res. The pri­mary ref­er­ences are Hin­dus­tani (North In­dian) and Car­natic (South In­dian). A widerang­ing pro­gram, bur­nished by bravura play­ing, is book­ended with in­stru­men­tals com­posed by the leader that gen­u­flect to past pathfind­ers. There are shades of Shakti in the Scot’s ce­les­tial opener

Dhu­maketu, in which his fla­menco-in­flu­enced gui­tar fig­ures echo John McLaugh­lin and Jac­que­line Shave’s jazzy In­dian vi­o­lin evokes Jean-Luc Ponty and L. Subra­ma­niam. Thacker’s ti­tle track, which em­ploys re­versed record­ing tech­nique in con­junc­tion with tabla, wa­ter­phones and Ti­betan singing bowls, is al­to­gether darker yet more ac­ces­si­ble than Nigel Os­borne’s chal­leng­ing suite The Five Ele­ments. Al­though stress­ing the con­nec­tion be­tween Span­ish and In­dian mu­sic, Terry Ri­ley’s in­stru­men­tal epic SwarA­mant also un­der­goes myr­iad twists and turns. Thacker’s

Svaran­jali of­fers an equally ex­cit­ing dia­logue be­tween Sar­var Sabri’s vir­tu­osic tabla and the leader’s clas­si­cal gui­tar. Shirish Korde’s raga study Anus­vara un­folds over a drone, with an­gu­lar gui­tar chords act­ing as a cat­a­lyst.

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