Thursday, December 29, 2011

James Asher - Tigers of the Raj

The ten pieces in Tigers of the Raj trace a journey to Rajasthan, the land of princely dynastic rulers, elegance, and stark beauty. Rhythmic elements, also used in Feet in the Soil, underpin the wider range of themes that characterizes the album. The power, splendor, color, and epic sense of adventure found in the ancient palaces of Rajasthan made a profound impact on the author who here attempts to orchestrate moods and feelings evoked by his journey, weaving together modern techniques with ancient sounds in a musical score fit for a maharajah. State-of-the-art hard disk recording techniques are tastefully and expertly combined with magnificent musical productions by Indian artists. The santoor play of Kiran Pal Singh (who is one of only five disciples of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma) is enhanced by the infectious conga playing of Miles Bould (who has frequently toured with Sting). World renowned frame-drum player Glen Velez here joins guitarist Volker Grun, who flew especially from Germany to contribute more of the unique swing that previously enriched Feet in the Soil. Twenty musicians in total join here to co- create this impressive tribute to Indian culture and art and evoke in music the experiences of a traveler journeying through the "Land of Kings." The album is further uplifted by acoustic percussions, sitar, santoor, sarangi, flute, and the voices of several Indian singers used to create a magical musical atmosphere. Like in Feet in the Soil, James Asher uses drums as the base of his musical composition Tigers of the Raj. Rajasthani drumming rhythms were created in consultation with Sandeep Raval, a remarkable table player and expert of Indian folk music. Contemporary Western dance sounds were added and also melody, contributed by Craig Pruess, both a keyboard player and an expert in sitar, tambura, and swarmandala instruments with twelve years of experience in the study of Indian music. The trance-like opening piece Temple Gates is characterized by a hot and driving tempo, enriched by the duj-djun's of Peter Lockett (who is the percussion player on the musical score of the James Bond feature Tomorrow Never Dies) and the dhols of Johnny Kalai (whose Dhol Foundation was the opening act in the concert given by the BBC in honor of India's soth anniversary of independence featuring Ravi Shankar.) A haunting and ethereal female voice opens the temple gates of this mesmerizing piece, leading the listener into the heart of the composition and beguiling one to join the dance. Who is She? Is She a Rajasthani Temple Priestess? Her enchantment is an invitation to enter the hypnotic sway of the dance that climaxes with the sounds of guitar and sarangi. James Asher's album is a welcome surprise; it honors the richness of Indian classical music and weaves it with variations on Western rhythms. Enhanced by the quality of its excellent production, Tigers of the Raj stands out as an original album of world music with broad appeal. From the haunting themes of Red Desert to the majestic finale of the last track, its melody, groove, and atmosphere make it an all-absorbing experience. Never has Indian fusion sounded this good before! - by TJE NAPRA June 2000. (New Earth Records website)

Artist: James Asher
Album: Tigers of the Raj
Year: 1998
Label: New Earth
Runtime: 70:24

1.  Temple Gates (Radio Edit) 4:33 
2.  Trans-India 5:44 
3.  Prayer Wheel (Ragu Patti) 6:28 
4.  Red Desert 5:40 
5.  Assam 4:54 
6.  Further East 5:25 
7.  Nataraj Express 5:39 
8.  Liquid Sky 5:35 
9.  Duskfire 7:03 
10.  The Astrologer's Seat 11:04 
11.  Temple Gates (Extended Mix) 8:13 
All compositions by j. Asher, except Red Desert and Nataraj Express co-composed by J. Asher and Craig Pruess

James Asher (Keyboards, Percussion and Soundscape)
Sandeep Raval (Tabla, Dholak, Tassa and Djembe)
Johnny Kalsi (Dhol)
Sumeet Chopra (Tabla, Douffli, Tassa and Keyboards)
Kiran Pal Singh (Santoor)
Kiran Thakrar (Keyboards)
Glen Velez (Frame Drums, Reik and Percussions)
Billy Wilmington (Drums, Darabouka and Ankle-Bells)
Tom Eldridge (Djembe)
Mohan Parmar (Manjira)
Surinder Kamath (Flute)
Volker Grün (Guitar)
Craig Pruess (Sitar, Swaramandala, Tambura and Keyboards)
Surjit Singh (Sarangi)
Peter Lockett (Djun-Djuns, Chapa, Kanjira and Cymbals)
Miles Bould (Congas and Timbales)
Chhaya Vachharajani (Vocals) - 6,7,9
Al Gromer Khan (Sitar) - 10
Swati Natekar (Vocals) - 3
Pandit Vishwa Prakash (Vocals) - 8
Dinesh K. Mahavir (Vocals) - 4


  1. I've been listening to a lot of music from the Middle East, India, Africa and this really floats my boat! Thanks so much for your hard work and sharing!



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