Boomkat Product Review:
It has become slightly passé now to go on about having 'found yourself in India', but back in the 1950s and 1960s, India, and Indian music were extremely new to much of the Western world. Although many would reference the 'star of the sitar' Ravi Shankar as the man who kick started everything, if it wasn't for a certain Vilayat Khan (another sitar player) who released this record in 1955, Shankar's music may never have found a wider audience. You see this album was recorded over half a century ago and yet listening to it now it still sounds fresh, rounded and definitely alien. Sure the styles have been re-appropriated since the 50s, sometimes successfully, sometimes disastrously (hello Kula Shaker) but there's nothing like hearing the real thing, and these two musicians were absolute masters of their craft. With Vilayat on sitar, Ali Akbar Khan took the sarod, a 25 stringed Indian lute and together their extremely differing styles of playing come together. Interestingly we get introductions from American violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who on travelling and performing in India was bowled over by the level of musicianship in Indian traditional music. On meeting these musicians he was amazed, enough to say of Ali Akbar Khan that he was "an absolute genius, the greatest musician in the world". High praise indeed, but this virtuoso skill can easily be heard in these compositions, from the first two long-form pieces each around twenty minutes in length to the shorter ragas which clock in at around three minutes each. Calling this psychedelic music might not be absolutely correct as it will likely give people the wrong preconceptions about the music itself, this is the sound that was taken on by the psychedelic musicians of the time, and I implore you to give it some of your time, it really is quite incredible.