Arkè String Quartet / Trilok Gurtu

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Arkeology Review

by Chris Nickson

There's definitely something interesting going on here. Mix percussionist Trilok Gurtu with Italy's Arke String Quartet, whose instrumental arsenal extends a little beyond convention, and you have a marvellous blend of East and West, apparent from the outset with "Balahto," which just cracks out of the box. It really is a cultural blend, too, with everyone responsible for the compositions, such as Gurtu's "Folded Hands," which is extensive and exploratory, gorgeously melodic, and rhythmically inventive. Creatively, the musicians are real equals, all striving for something new and making connections. The fact that they're all virtuosos doesn't hurt, either, readily able to translate their ideas from the head to the fingers, and with a deep knowledge of global music and an obvious desire to learn more. It takes some unexpected turns, like the tabla that mixes with the music of Southern Italy on "Taranta Suite," but works perfectly. In its own quiet way, this is one of the great successes of the year.