Tuesday, April 12, 2011
"The raga, a musical form of ancient Hindustani prayer and poetry, has been the cornerstone of Indian music for centuries, evolving into a complex set of expressions inviting improvisation and varying according to purpose, mood, story, and ritual. Stately in their sounds, ragas are most often created with sitar, sarod, tabla, tamboura (or drone), and voice with each note functioning as an evocation of the world's sanctity. The Raga Guide offers five hours and 15 minutes of stunningly beautiful music, played by masters of the instrument and accompanied by informative description, music transcriptions, and (where applicable) texts with English translations. Lovingly recorded, carefully authored, simply laid out, this wonderful package is the essence of perfection, topped off by exquisite color plates of ragamalas, or paintings depicting the stories of the ragas. A sublime tribute to Indian classical music."
Monday, April 11, 2011
I "With so much music that is mislabeled as ambient, casual listeners suffer from misconceptions of what it actually is and from I can tell has completely sullied the genre as a result. This compilation is as much of what ambient music truly is about as much as compilations like "Ambient Lounge" completely misses the point. It captures not just the checklist of what makes ambient music what it is, but more importantly the ETHOS. What makes this compilation so fabulous is that it is amazing to listen to start to finish, but also that its contents are so remarkably diverse."
II "Most of the tracks possess a laid-back, atmospheric quality and use of traditional electronic instruments in non-traditional ways. For those unfamiliar with Ambient music, don't expect the drum to create the rythym and the rythym to emulate a drum beat. The dialog of Ambient speaks in a different language than any other modern form. Patience goes a long way when trying out Ambient. In time, patience and willingness to explore will cultivate a great harvest from the various samplings. As a fearless listener of "alternative music" in the 1980's and 90's, my interest in the Ambient albums evolved over 15 years. My first listening sessions weren't very fruitful. After a few years, many of the tracks became sublime and others much more accessible."
III "This collection is an ideal introduction to ambient music, with a very wide range of styles included. There are one or two duff tracks but generally speaking all the tracks are very enjoyable, some very slow tempoed and relaxing, others a bit more dancy, there's even an excellent dub track included. Don't get this confused with all the naff ibiza ambient stuff that's being churned out, this cd pre-dates all that nonsense and is genuine ambient music."
IV "The multi-directional styles on these blacker-than-midnight ambient recordings, combined with the compiler's cryptic liner notes, not to mention the awesome sequencing of the successive tracks, make me feel like I've been let in on some kind of chthonic secret, the results of some imaginal archeological dig, illustrated musically to marvelous effect.
And I don't think that the term "isolationism" merely illustrates a marketing ploy on VRs' part (as if these recordings could ever be "big" commercially!), but rather seems a good, solid term for what is sonically going on here. That is, solo artists or duos digging down deep into the disturbing layers of the psyche, exploring ruins of dream cities, feeling dwarfed in the face of nature, numbed by the human-machine interface, hypnogogic states and confused reveries, etc.,--and this the soundtrack to it all."