Album Review

Khan, Bismillah – “Shehnai Nawaz ” – [EMI (India)]

Thurston Hunger   3/8/2007   12-inch, International

Bismillah Khan was laid to rest August 2006 year, his work on the shehnai
remains lively and remarkable…he took those four reeds and squeezed
seven decades out of them. While listening to these two ragas one is
impressed by the shehnai’s abilty to waver, as if to falter…not unlike
someone hitting the pitch shifter on the turntable, but then quickly
re-align itself right back in tune. These deft drops done repeatedly
show the mastery…and remind me of a bird taking off. The first raga,
“Bhupal-Todi” keeps things at a managed pace, drone-infused but again
full of more flight than that. On the other face, that for the night,
“Bageshree” showcases a more impulsive set of playing, at times it
seems Khan splits into two or three other players…forces are joined
but it is more fun to imagine Khan incarnate and reincarnating on the
spot. and some lightning deviations zap your breath away. Lengthy tracks
but time just flies with these on…perhaps that is the math underneath
creating some sort of audio illusion? Anyways the shehnai, like the
theremin and the erhu, has the ability to connot the human voice,
especially a voice overcome with feeling…to the point of it becoming
something else. Gods cast mortals into statues and trees, why not
musical intruments as well. Viva Bismillah Khan, enjoy these two
tremendous pieces played with devotion, and check out

-Thurston Hunger

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