Monday, February 4, 2008
V. M. Bhatt
Normally the idea of world fusion would send me running to the hills, fearing the wrath of heavily reverbed Native American flutes, thunderous hand-drums and a synth whoosh, but V. M. Bhatt manages to mix his deft moohan veena (Indian slide guitar) playing with western music to breathtaking result. On Tabula Rasa, he pits his lonely tones against Bela Fleck's banjo, both demonstrating remarkable restraint in keeping the music from venturing off the multicultural precipice. The tabla and flutes sometimes get get away from the tune, but it feels to be in the spirit of ecstatic interlock. The group is equally at home with Bhatt's meditative ragas as they are with folk chestnuts like "John Hardy."
Even better though, is A Meeting by The River, his duet with Ry Cooder than won them a Grammy in 1994. Cooder is no stranger to multicultural fusion - with his albums with Ali Farka Toure and coordinating the Buena Vista Social Club sessions being just a sample - but this record is relaxed and sublime. The story has it that the two me for the first time only twenty minutes before the recording session, but this album sounds like anything but a "jam." It unfolds like the river to which they allude in the title, and when the tablas kick in on the title track, it kinda makes me gasp.
Here is a video of a session with blues dobro player Doug Cox