Kartik Seshadri

Raga Rasa: That Which Colors the Mind

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An album of ragas from one of the leading students of Ravi Shankar, Raga Rasa intends to portray the many moods of ragas in general, using an array of differing seasonal ragas and a few intended to evoke specific emotions regardless of season. Being a student of Shankar's leads to a few expectations on the part of Kartik Seshadri's playing, such as the ability to reach intense speed, as well as technical ability. This he lives up to wonderfully, providing neverending rushes through the scales that test the limits of his fingers. At the same time, he displays some incredible proficiency in hitting "chiseled" notes -- sharply played, well chosen, unwavering notes that show off his sheer dexterity, as well as the ability to improvise around 300 bpm. Preceding these rushes, one can also enjoy the other end of his playing, the alaps. His explorations of the scales involved are nice, keeping up a bit more of a tempo than most dhrupad-influenced artists (which Seshadri is to some degree, via Ravi Shankar, via Allauddin Khan, via Wazir Khan), but still covering all of the major points. Able accompaniment on the tabla is provided by journeyman Bikram Ghosh throughout, staying largely in the back, but providing a solid base, and occasionally showing off his own chops as well. With the current wealth of Indian music on the market, there's a fair bit of competition for an album like this, even coming from the grand lineage that it does. With this competition, Raga Rasa performs well. Seshadri is an exceptional player, and it shows here. That said, for some of the best sitar playing, one has to look no further than the teacher casting his shadow over this album, and outperforming Shankar is something very few albums can do.

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