Hariprasad Chaurasia

Being Still

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The front cover of Being Still is a better indicator than the back cover of what to expect from this album. On the front you'll see the names of the artists and the album title framing a piece of soothing abstract art on a field of gentle baby blue. On the back you'll see this sentence: "This music was conceived to dispel the cacophony of the mind, create a balance in the atmosphere and transport one to the place of stillness deep within." Now, if you are one of the many who generally feel that phrases like "balance in the atmosphere" and "stillness deep within" are simply different ways of signalling that this will be little more than mood music for Baby Boomers in mid-life crisis, do your best to reserve judgment in this case. Yes, this album consists of two very long tracks; yes, it consists of a bamboo flute with orchestral accompaniment; yes, the first thirty seconds of the first track will tell you exactly what to expect for the 40 minutes that remain. But if you carry on and listen, you will not be disappointed by a lot of pointless noodling and pseudo-spiritual woo-woo. Hari Prasad Chaurasia is a genuine master of his instrument, and while the soft and reedy tone of the bansuri flute is soothing almost to the point of being soporific, his slowly evolving melodies and subtle ornaments are genuinely fascinating. Ken Lauber's orchestral accompaniment, which could so easily have been dreadful, is instead luxuriant and insightful, making the most of the music's almost complete harmonic stasis by adding only drones and gentle shadings of vertical elaboration. There have been so many of these East-meets-West collaborations in the past, and so few of them have been musically successful; this is one of the happy exceptions.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
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