20 June 2006

Tandava's Delicious Diversity (CD Review)

Tandava: Tandava
www.tandava.com | Buy CD

Vancouver BC-based Tandava is essentially a world-fusion group, incorporating Chinese, Carnatic, Hindustani, and Western classical traditions. So seamlessly are these threads woven together, the listener might be excused for thinking this is the traditional music of, well, someplace -- maybe in South Asia or the Middle East. A land where the vocals of Bangladeshi Prashant John trade licks with the erhu of Lan Tung on "Dooarey," about the journey after death. Where Tung's erhu and Jonathan Bernard's marimba sing in tandem over Stafan Cihelka's tabla on the Taiwanese aboriginal melody "Dance of the Amis."

The self-titled album maintains its freshness throughout, though the energy seems to flag just a little on "Goyama." Fortunately, it's followed by what could be the group's theme song, "Common Ground," in which Tandava combines an African-sounding guitar line with tabla, erhu, balafon, and percussive vocals speaking of "unity in diversity."

Put simply, this is a gorgeous album by top-notch musicians. They blend their diverse talents into a unified whole, with results that will appeal to fans of Vas, or gnawa music, or.... The mind reels seeking some comparison, some other group that lopes from cyclical trance rhythms to melody and back again, that hooks you with simple melodic appeal and only slowly exposes its true face of harmonic/rhythmic complexity. Delicious, through and through.

Song samples with artist notes:

  • "Kaladhar" Mainly instrumental, this piece opens with a melody sung in sargam (Indian equivalent of solfege) and moves through three different metres: 6/8, 4/4 and 7/8.
  • "Muralila" This piece is inspired by the Gnawa music of Morocco and sung to Krishna in Hindi: "O beautiful Dweller of the forest, dance, sing, and play your flute."
  • "Thai Sunrise" Beginning in a slow and subtle polyphony, this instrumental composition in a 5 beat cycle ends with a climactic conversation between the erhu and guitar.
  • "Common Ground" Combining elements of Bengali, Chinese, and African music, the piece speaks of unity in diversity.
Remember to leave a comment (or question or suggestion or elaboration) to be entered into SoundRoots' June CD giveaway!

World Cup notes: After yesterday's results, I think I'll hold back on my public predictions. The Saudis had lost their inspiration, Togo ran out of oomph early, and even Spain suffered an early goal against, though it was a tough tussle and they did triumph over Tunesia as predicted. Today, I'm choosing Germany to win (easy, since they're already well ahead). And while hoping for a Costa Rican success, I'm guessing Poland will prevail. In the later games, the big question is whether Rooney's start will inject a little life into a dull English side. If they can best Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago could actually advance by beating goal-less Paraguay! Should be interesting...

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