Kuljit Bhamra / Barb Jungr / Russell Churney

Durga Rising

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After her fruitful and prolific stint as one-half of the ever-eclectic Jungr & Parker, Barb Jungr returned to school to earn her masters degree in ethnomusicology, which in turn led to the formation of JBC (later changed to Durga Rising), a Hindustani-flavored trio also featuring Kuljit Bhamra -- an expert tabla player and a pioneer in London's bhangra movement -- and Jungr's longtime musical partner, pianist Russell Churney. The group lasted for a couple years, but as a recording unit it only managed the one-off album Durga Rising, an effort that managed to merge Indian, jazz, European cabaret, blues, and pop music into a mostly successful and coherent, though admittedly peculiar, sort of treat. The compelling collisions begin immediately with "The Cutter," which most listeners would be hard-pressed to place as the Echo & the Bunnymen cover that it, in fact, is. In JBC's arrangement, with its viscous raga rhythms and haunting cello, the swirling post-punk song is tweaked into an earthy but exultant psychedelic anthem. The whimsically mooning "Bombay Dreaming," oddly enough, shares with the sprightly "Crimes Against Nature" the honor of being the most theatrical song on the album. In contrast, "Go Down Easy" is a beautiful dirge borrowed from the legendary British folk master John Martyn. Only "Spit It Out," a blues tune, drags on a bit longer than necessary (the other Jungr & Parker contribution, "Tears in a Bottle," is just right), especially in light of the slow-burning, almost operatic revision of "Blind Willie McTell," a Bob Dylan composition that not only serves as the cornerstone of the album but also pointed the way toward Jungr's later masterwork, Every Grain of Sand. An intriguing, adventurous amalgam.

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