Surinder Sandhu’s new release, Cycles and Stories, is far removed in scope from his previous outing, the profoundly powerful Saurang Orchestra, featuring members from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and a myriad of Eastern and Western players. The new recording features just five players and some guests, though East meets West is the continued theme. In this smaller ensemble Sandhu’s individual voice on the ancient Indian Sarangi is much more appreciated. It can be haunting, soaring, funky, and even poppish in places.
Sandhu writes in the liner notes that most of the pieces were composed during late nights and early mornings just before the recording sessions. This probably accounts for the urgency heard in the music. The tunes are very alive. From time to time the vibe is slowed down, in order to contemplate what came before and to anticipate what may yet come.
It has come to the point with this type of music that it becomes tiresome to refer to it as East meets West. Guitarist Peter Brown and Bassist Dave Clarke seem to be playing very Western, while the Indians, Sandhu and Ghatam player R. N. Prakash seem to be playing very Eastern. Drummer Miles Levin may go back and forth a bit. As a whole it works very well. A new name for this entire musical movement would be very helpful, so we can stop using the old words.
Saxophonist Chris Aldridge makes an outstanding guest appearance. But perhaps the surprise of the CD is vocalist Sharam Gill’s contribution. He co-wrote “Paths UP Paths Down” with Sandhu. This piece defies all description—but I will try. Imagine Julio Iglesias singing something that sounds like the slow ballad “The Summer Knows” while being supported by the droning of Indian instruments. This tune has to be heard to be appreciated for the amalgam of cultures it is.
Cycles and Stories is another fine record from Surinder Sandhu that furthers his cause. I do think it is a tune or two too long, but you may not.
Track Listing: Re-visited; Never Forget; Paths Up Paths Down; Yesterday Living; Indian Time... Imagine That; Kismet Ki Khel, Fates Game; CDycles and Stories; Thoughts of Together; Escape to Twilight; Re-union
Personnel: Surinder Sandhu- Sarangi; Dave Clarke- Bass; Miles Levin- Drums; R.N Prakash- Ghatam; Peter Brown- Guitar; and guests.