Album Review

Nathamuni Brothers – “Madras 1974 ” – [Fire Museum Records]

Thurston Hunger   9/13/2007   CD, International

I was sort of hoping for the glory of the Jaipur Kawa Brass
Band, but this is a different kettle of sonic tea. This is
another large ensemble, accustomed to playing outdoors (this
was evidently recorded on a patio in 1974!) The clarinet-ty
nagaswaram is twice as long as the shehnai, its sound is a
tighter shade of shrill. It is strongly featured and often
with a pair or more leading the charge, the notes definitely
slither in Carnatic ecstasy, but the tone is oddly pure.
I miss the a raspier gasping to a degree. Also the bumps and
brrppts of the brass are very much in the background, even
then they are smoothed out. I will say that several times the
tabla/drums get good and driving, like at the end of #3.
The improv introduction to #4 is stellar, as free as any fire
jazz…completely killer! The next track is an epic 28 minute
excursion, again I found the drumming pushing my prana buttons
even more than the reeds. Some of the melodies sound closer to
home, rue Brittania?? And I’m not counting the English “Note”
on track 8 which would bring a tear to Popeye’s eye. Glad the
CD doesn’t end there. It closes with more nagaswaram noodling.
A solid release…as one would expect…by way of a UC Irvine
musicologist by the name of Robert Garfias.

-Thurston Hunger

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