Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti: Rakshasa (slapthemoon)

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Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti: Main Tenu Yaad Aavanga
Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti: Rakshasa (slapthemoon)

Elsewhere is always pleased to introduce interesting music from elsewhere . . . and this exceptional album is about as elsewhere as it gets.

British classical guitarist Simon Thacker is one of those well-traveled world citizens who has performed across Europe with various world music artists, leads his own ensembles which bridge the East/West divide, is passionate about Segovia, knows his jazz (and is a thrilling improviser as we shall see), here includes commissions from Terry Riley, British composer Nigel Osborne and India's Shirish Korde alongside his own work . . .

The small Svara-Kanti ensemble includes singer Japjit Kaur, violinist Jacqueline Shave and tabla player Sarvar Sabli . . . so we are in the world between contemporary classical, innovative Indian music and what can sometimes sound like Indo-gypsy jazz with a twist.

It is expansive, inclusive and thrillingly inventive, often unpredictable music which is grounded in many traditions (notably Indian folk) and -- hold your breath -- the title track at the end is a tour de force of backward/forward guitar sonics (over tabla, Tibetan singing bowls and waterphone) which is a real headphones trip. At six and a half minutes it is like a mini-raga inverted in from Mars.

Osborne's multi-part piece The Five Elements is a subtle suite from Ether through the whisper-thin opening of Air into Water, the tense Fire and into Earth -- and is the perfect lead-in to Riley's 14 minute centrepiece SwarAmant where scouring violin sears across the top of incendiary tabla and frantic acoustic guitar. Imagine the Kronos Quartet with Alla Rahka and a gypsy-jazz guitarist and you are almost close. Its mood, tempo and dynamic shifts will keep you enthralled.

Thacker's Multani is a mini-raga condensed into four and a half minutes and his adaptation of three Punjabi folksongs includes a hypnotically delightful love song and the evocative and exciting Shava Ghund Chuk Ke.

This 70 minute album -- in a beautiful and informative cover -- is a cleverly convoluted journey which will take you through Spain and the Middle East to northern India . . . and then in that final track send you out into the cosmos.

Yes, this is world music of a kind.

And most definitely elsewhere.

For more information about Simon Thacker's various projects and back-catalogue, or to purchase this album, go here.

Simon Thacker answers our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here.

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