Various Artists

Travelogue: A Musical Journey Through India

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Subtitled "A Musical Journey Through India," this gathers a dozen widely varying pieces of Indian music from the late 1990s and early 2000s. India's a huge, heterogeneous country, and summarizing the state of music there in any era is impossible to do over the course of a mere CD. This collection doesn't purport to do that, and does offer a strong range of regional and stylistic diversity within its allotted hour. Pop, soundtrack, devotional, folk, classical, and even hip-hop-flavored DJ pieces are all on hand, from the regions of Punjab, South India, Gujarat, North India, Rajasthan, and Bengal. Generally the more classical-grounded instrumental pieces, such as Shashank's "'Sarasijanabba': Raga Naga Gaandari," come off better than the pop-oriented vocal numbers, at least to Western ears, who might find some of the melodies sentimentally cheesy and female vocals piercing. Bombay S. Jayashri's "Keshavaya Namaha" is the most ritualistic track, while Muzaffar Ali's "Jab Phagun Raang Jhamakte Hein" is impressive for the melismatic (and non-piercing) female vocals of Chhaya Ganguli and a gently swaying tune and arrangement. The sleeve includes a handy foldout map of India pinpointing the regions of the specific performers, with concise details on each track.

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