Once you get past the superb packaging and cover art of Winds of Samsara, with a stunningly mystical post-Art Nouveau cover by Tarun Cherian, you're greeted by a study in true World / New Age music in Mahatma, an ode to Ghandi but also a gorgeous blend of several art traditions old and new masterfully charted and arranged. There's a lot in this disc of what Peter Gabriel has been doing for many years now, transferred with both novo-authenticity and delicacy, not to mention countervailing effulgences and wistful sparsity, but minus all the rock influences, kind of a mellifluous middle ground between Pete's recent softer passages and the Old World flavors he showed in Passion—with lots of Paul Winter. Keyboardist Ricky Kej and flautist Wouter Kellerman demonstrate the same marvelously considered blend of highly intelligent progressive sensibilities informed by judicious aesthetics well beyond the ken of most musicians.
Kellerman (and I've been enraptured by this guy before…here) is a masterful player, sensitive to every least nuance in the songs, the sort of winds musician you have to sit down and listen hard to because there are layers within layers within deceptive layers in what first oft appears to be a light hand but is instead calmly crusted over with a wealth of well-thought-out choices and inflections, tradition and expansive individuality linking arms. Kej, on the other hand, is frequently a painter of sonic murals, a weaver of landscapes, his imagery rich and deep (catch the synths behind Kellerman in Madiba), seemingly many hands all at once. He occupies much of the background (occasionally on bass as well) and shifts between dimensions, sometimes as plain as the sun, clouds, and trees, other moments subtly sneaking up behind you like a Santa Ana summer breeze or a gentle congeries of ghostly energies wafting through eddying environs.
Winds of Samsara is most definitely progressive music but not progrock, rather a part of the wellsprings from which that estimable genre sprang and to which it returns all too infrequently. I have a pronounced soft spot for Carnatic musics, and this disc infuses Carnatic with African with many World elements so smoothly (I rrrrreally liked the Ladysmith Black Mambazo elements in River of Time) that you can't help but glaze over, sit back, sigh, and smile dreamily. When, for instance, was the last time you heard Greensleeves done with sitar accompaniment? You'll hear it here, and a whole lot more besides—not with a roar, not with thunder and lightning, certainly not with incense shop goopiness, but like a long-brewing ambrosia that captures ears through the exotic perfumes and earthy musks it emits.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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