Anant Jesse

Mantrica

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AllMusic Review by

The sleeve bills the album as "a bliss-ride thru the ancient, the modern, the electric, and the Vedic," and for once the hype isn't overstated. You name it -- it's here, from Western alternative rock to electronica, Indian neo-classical, worldbeats of different types, chants, even ambient music. And the thing is, it all fits together seamlessly. While the music is meant to be spiritual, to the average listener it's a fascinating journey, as the pieces -- the shortest runs seven and a half minutes, the longest almost 13 minutes -- unfold, morph, and take on different shapes and colors; for anyone expecting a lightweight new age disc, it's really quite a shock. Drummer and percussionist Jesse (formerly a member of Dramarama) has assembled a fascinating band comprised of American and Indian musicians who work beautifully together under his direction, and his sense of arrangement is inspired throughout. Even "Savasana," which revolves around one chord with overtones and thoughtful improvisations, never drags. The players give their utmost and never fail to glean new levels of understanding from the material, with "Sri Rudnam" making a jolting, upbeat start and "Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra" pushing all manner of musical envelopes. Jesse knows when to program and when to use real percussion; he has a remarkable command of musical styles and he makes it all work in a way few have been able to before.

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