Antigravity

Boogie for Hanuman

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AllMusic Review by

Most fusions of Indian music and jazz have served merely to add Asian accents to pieces that are distinctly Western. Often they have even been timid as jazz, aiming at pretty and soft moods that are as authentic as 1950s albums of Hawaiian music with a full orchestra. Most have employed Indian instruments playing in European time signatures rather than really exploring the possibilities of Hindustani scales and singing styles. Boogie for Hanuman is different. This album makes no compromises with the form of Indian classical music but does add jazz instruments and ideas about soloing and improvisation. The result is definitely not easy listening. Most of these pieces feature driving, complex percussion rhythms overlaid with a tangle of shifting melodies on violin, sitar, and various flutes. To someone unaccustomed to Indian music this can sound cacophonous, but repeated listenings reveal a sonic landscape of vast intricacy and subtle shades. The throbbing title cut is pretty accessible, with sitar and guitar interplay that the CD notes aptly compare to an Indian Dick Dale. The piece is over seven minutes long, but is not at all overextended -- there are plenty of ideas here, and they're deployed in such a way that the new listener is drawn in. From there things get gradually more complicated. "The Mobius Man" has multiple parts of the same theme playing on different instruments -- some parts soothing, others hectic and busy, but all somehow integrated into one piece. "This Melody No Verb" has two themes played simultaneously, neither of which seems to suggest the other when considered separately. To describe the latter two tunes in this manner may make them sound like a music student's composition class final -- something bloodless, moodless, and technical -- but all three are surprisingly easy listening. From here on things are more challenging -- if "Dark House-Midday" was the first cut on the CD, listeners might not be inclined to check out the rest. Hopefully, newcomers to Indian music will have their ears attuned by the time this piece and "Weaving Time" come along, because the frantic, at times chaotic group improvisation takes some getting used to. "G-Mu-Nu" comes as close as this album gets to straight jazz, while "Ishmael" closes things out with boisterous, high-energy fusion. Boogie for Hanuman is a real rarity, a jazz-rock/world fusion album that is true to several sets of roots. The musically adventurous are advised to seek high and low, because this is one fine album.

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