Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shakti - Natural Elements

I do not believe there is a "best" Shakti album. All of them are brilliant and exhilarating and essential like chapters in a book. _Natural Elements_ does, however, stand out as the most lyrical and beautiful of Shakti's albums from the 70s, in my opinion. Shakti is a pluralistic group adapting some Western jazz idioms with an Indian environment, and here they also capture the widest range of moods. John McLaughlin straddles the line dividing Western and Eastern musical traditions, bridging the two with his guitar as his soul burns along the fretboard. Such is evident enough from the get-go, with "Mind Ecology", a fast-paced opener penned by McLaughlin, tearing along the pattering gallop of earthen percussion. But to celebrate their virtuosity as an end in itself would be a dishonor. "Mind Ecology", for all its speed and wild playing, exemplifies the "hidden" allure of Shakti -- the incredible virtuosity of these musicians is just a means to an end. The end of course being the articulation of an thrillingly joyful disposition, infectiously spiritual and focused. "Baby Baby Come Dance With Me" and "Happiness Is Being Together" are merry, vivacious jewels sparkling in the desert sands. The heavenly "Face to Face" and "Bridge of Sighs" slow that Shakti is just as engrossing when softened and calm. "Peace of Mind" is a spare beauty (that is unfortunately short) written by McLaughlin, where Shankar's violin renders a rapturously crying melody over gentle strumming. Definitely one of the most lovely moments in Shakti's discography. "The Daffodil and the Eagle" is exquisite, charged with the clairvoyant interplay that is typical of this group, with lead instruments and percussion entwining magnificently. Hearing them live would be the most prime way to experience the group's sheer acumen and togetherness, but for the diasporal Shakti, _Natural Elements_ is definitely essential. If you've never heard Shakti, this is as good an introduction as any. - by Lord Chimp, Amazon.com

The third and final Shakti recording from the 70s. The songs here are shorter than those on Shakti and Handful of Beauty, but no less impressive. The novelty of combining Eastern and Western musical styles had worn off and McLaughlin sounds comfortable. This allows for memorable compositions and interchanges, rather than the blistering virtuosity that characterized the first two releases. From the intense ("Daffodil And The Eagle") to the joyful ("Happiness Is Being Together"), Natural Elements stands as a milestone in McLaughlin's illustrious career. - by Robert Taylor, AMG

Artist: Shakti
Album: Natural Elements
Year: 1977
Label: Columbia (Master Sound)
Runtime: 39:33

Tracks:
1.  Mind Ecology (John McLaughlin) 5:47
2.  Face To Face (John McLaughlin/L. Shankar) 5:58
3.  Come On Baby Dance With Me (L. Shankar) 1:58
4.  The Daffodil And The Eagle (John McLaughlin/L. Shankar) 7:03
5.  Happiness Is Being Together (John McLaughlin) 4:28
6.  Bridge Of Sighs (John McLaughlin/L. Shankar) 3:52
7.  Get Down And Sruti (John McLaughlin/L. Shankar) 7:02
8.  Peace Of Mind (John McLaughlin) 3:22

Personnel:
John McLaughlin (Acoustic Guitar and Vocals)
L. Shankar (Violin, Viola and Vocals)
Zakir Hussain (Tabla, Timbales, Bongos, Dholak, Nal, Triangle and Vocals)
T.H. Vinayakram (Ghatam, Nal, Kanjeera, Moorsing and Vocals)

10 comments:

  1. Getting CRC errors on RAR decode.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just found you, again, and want to say thanks for the great shares you have offered. Great music. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Getting CRC errors on RAR decode."
    You can use WinRar's archive repair function (Crtl+R)...

    ReplyDelete
  4. itr — I tried repairing (I'm on a mac, so with different software, but same idea), creating PAR files as suggested on forums online, etc. etc. The result is the same as before, CRC errors on the first of the two RAR files.

    If other people aren't having problems, then I give up. But if others report the same thing, you might want to re-upload the files.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Anonymus,
    I understand your problem and I'll reupload these files soon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks! It works! Great to hear this album for the first time in years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank u very much, dude! I've been trying to find this algum for a log time. Please upload some Triangle album, or so...

    ReplyDelete

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