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Boomkat Product Review:
Black Truffle excavate another archival performance from Italian dhrupad maestra Amelia Cuni, who presents three ragas accompanied by tanpura and pakwahaj at Mumbai's Vishweshwarayya Hall.
Following on swiftly from last year's "Parampara festival 13.3.1992", Black Truffle unearth another crucial recording from Cuni. The Milan-born singer lived in India for over a decade, where she studied North Indian classical music, fixating on dhrupad - the oldest surviving style of singing. Studying under the masters of the form, she eventually collaborated with John Cage and Terry Riley (among others) and became recognized as one of the most important proponents of traditional dhrupad singing. "Mumbai 04.02.1996" is particularly interesting because it catches Cuni in India, bringing her well-honed expertise back to the place where the music was birthed and developed.
The set begins with a rendition of 'Raga Lalit' accompanied by tanpura - a long-necked string instrument that's used to provide a drone - and split into three distinct sections. The first almost half-hour part is a startling introduction to Cuni's vocal range, showing her mastery of complex microtonal changes in a temporal freeze. On 'Raga Bhairav' she's assisted by master pakwahaj player Manik Munde for the raga's concluding part, that adds a toned rhythmic intensity to her levitational vocals. Munde returns on the records final piece, 'Raga Alhaiya Bilaval', the most upbeat piece and a charming end to the set.