Artist: Shivkumar Sharma / Brij Bushan Kabra / Hariprasad Chaurasia
Album: Call of the Valley
Genre: Hindustani Classical Music
“Twanging Sitar Sounds Cascading Into Your Ears”
Now for something completely different.
Don’t ask me to explain this album to you. Don’t ask me to delve deep into the musicality of it all. Don’t ask me to break down each individual song. Don’t ask me to even explain to you what’s happening in each song. I have no idea how to answer any of these. I wish I was an expert on Hindustani Classical Music and the arrangements of Sitar playing. But sadly, I don’t, so all I have is my experience with what this album was.
It’s actually really cool that the list includes a lot of world music on it. Albums like this one would probably not really be heard by modern day western audiences if it weren’t for lists like this mentioning them and I think that’s pretty great that it’s giving the chance for young listeners (like myself) to discover some great world music. Didn’t expect something straight out of India that is basically a suite of classical Indian music as a throwback to days of old, but I’m happy it was there because it was an incredibly fresh listen in the vast pool of rock music I was listening to.
I really wish I knew more about this style of music because I really have no idea how to break it down. Already the entirety of it was instrumental and every song just blended together for me as it all sounded the same to my ears. I mean, yes there were differentiations between the songs… but to my untrained ears it’s hard to detect them exactly. I really just got lost in the beautiful sitar playing and flute arrangements and honestly didn’t pay attention to details. Nothing wrong with that. Almost like the jazz albums from the 50s, you put them on and get lost in them and it’s a very calming and relaxing experience. If you were to tell me the whole suite was telling a story of a the day in the life of a shepherd in Kashmir and used various ragas to let the audience know what time of the day it was… I wouldn’t have known that to be true. That’s exactly what they did and if I knew more about the music I probably would have caught that. Maybe one day I’ll relisten to it having this story in mind, but until then all I have is what I got. Not much.
Apparently this album was historically incredibly important. It was the album that introduced these stylings to western audiences and was beloved by musicians such as George Harrison, David Crosby, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn, and heavily influenced a lot of these artists to include sitar into their work. So if you hate or love this inclusion in 60s rock, you have this album to thank for that. (Fun Fact: it’s also one of the most successful Indian albums. So… the more you know).
What else can I really say? (Something I’m starting to say a lot). I enjoyed it and maybe if I find it in the bin at a record store mgiht even buy it so I can continue to play it in the background and not really pay attention to it. It sets the mood more than anything… whatever that mood is.
Song of Choice: Dhun-Mishra Kirwani