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Shakti: This Moment

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Shakti: This Moment
The Shakti of This Moment is essentially the Shakti of all its moments—a natural fusion bridging jazzy interplay with the forms and rhythms of Hindustani carnatic music, even if the sound is leagues away from the all-acoustic wildfire that singed countless ears with the live Shakti with John McLaughlin (Columbia, 1976). The group's unexpected reemergence after never-mind-how-many decades comes with a share of surprises, from touches of vaguely reed-like MIDI guitar to the presence of a co-lead violin for the first time since the 1970s. Nonetheless, listeners of any vintage will recognize a certain spirit that has been a throughline through the band's whole history, one of generosity, big-hearted inclusion and above all joy.

John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain are joined by friends old and new; percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan have remained since the early-2000s' Remember Shakti reformation, while new member Ganesh Rajagopalan rounds out the new lineup with some beguiling liquid violin. Even if the program leans toward shorter groove pieces than the epic raga-like marathons of albums past, they pack no shortage of playful give-and-take into each one.

The taps and thuds of Hussain's eloquent tabla mesh with rhythmic konokol scatting as much as percussion and handclaps; Mahadevan's crooning flows as silkily as the violin or McLaughlin's fleet guitar, which is also put through some electronic effects that nobody would have imagined when Shakti first formed. If his lightly funky low-end on "Sono Mama" will be less amusing to some listeners than others, such small gimmicks make the exception while clean ear-pleasing tones are the rule.

This hour has space for conversational rhythmic workouts, patient floating meditations, sweeping flights of fancy ("Karuna" finds Rajagopalan beautifully reaching for the sky), and even a jaunty folk dance fit for a European royal court or the American south. Amidst those surprises, a couple more overly acoustic jams such as "Mohanam" evoke a tinge of Shakti's earliest beginnings while remaining exuberantly in this moment. Through all those modes, it is nothing if not a moment of heartfelt celebration.

Track Listing

Shrini’s Dream; Bending the Rules; Karuna; Mohanam; Giriraj Sudha; Palmas; Changay Naino; Sono Mama.

Personnel

Shakti
band / ensemble / orchestra
Additional Instrumentation

Selvaganesh Vinayakram: kanjira, mridangam, ghatam, konokol; John McLaughlin: guitar synthesizer; Zakir Hussain: konokol, chanda, madal; Shankar Mahadevan: konokol; Ganesh Rajagopalan: konokol.

Album information

Title: This Moment | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Abstract Logix

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