Thursday, November 11, 2010

CD Review: Swamy Haridhos & Party

Swamy Haridhos & Party
Classical Bhajans
Country & Eastern

Recorded in 1968 in Bombay, Swamy Haridhos & Party performs devotional music in the classical bhajan traditions. A bhajan is simply any type of Indian devotional song, which may include kirtan, mantra, raga, tala, and dhrupad forms. Classical Bhajans features twenty-one songs with Swamy on vocals, M. Bhagvatar on harmonium, P.S. Devarajan on mridangam, K. Shivakumar on violin, and K.V. Ramani on tabla. Notably, the recording was produced by the founder of the Country & Eastern label, Bengt Berger. Swamy sings in the Dakshina Bharatha Sampradaya Bhajan tradition, which is indigenous to Southern India. The ecstatic vocals and musical compositions vary in length from under one-minute ("Mandare Mule") to nearly nine minutes ("Gurumurthi Pada Mule"). The basis for the music relies upon ancestral links of religious and devotional themes and deities. The seemingly frenzied rhythms and call-and-response vocals interspersed with the accordion-like drone of the harmonium and punchy tabla and mridangam remind one of Sufi ensembles. Unfortunately, Swamy Haridhos died in the Ganges River on a trip to the Himalayas in 1994. Fortunately, Swamy's music will live on for future generations. For fans of Indian folk, religious, and devotional music, Swamy Haridhos and his ensemble are a worthy addition to any collection. ~ Matthew Forss

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