Cheb i Sabbah :: Krishna Lila
[six degrees]   review from derek  

There's a scene in Star Wars when Luke Skywalker, upon returning to find his home destroyed by Imperial troopers, stares out across the Algerian-esque desert in complete disarray. During that brief moment a sense of loneliness, utter separation, yet complete faith, moves through him. A cycle has ended, the youth facing eminent adulthood. It is at this moment he joins Obi-Wan to begin Jedi training.

Krishna Lila conjures such imagery: Within its quiet beauty Cheb I Sabbah presents a radiant chorus capable of touching the heavens. Borrowing elements from both North and South Indian Hindustani and Karnatic styles, as well as fusing raw, one-take instrumentals alongside five bhajans - devotional songs mostly written by saints - he has presented a record meditative and explosive, timeless and timely.

The third installment in a trilogy exploring Indian music through modern electronica, Krishna Lila (The Divine Pastimes of Krishna) is of dire importance. Featuring, by happenstance, all Vaishnava musicians, an oceanic resonance pervades throughout. Opening with the seductive whirlwind of "Narajanma Bandage," sung by Baby Sreeram in Kannada, the listener is taken through an effervescent subterfuge one hour long, whirling through chasms of veena and tabla, molded by the intimate repetition of celestial chanting.

"Maname Diname" features Bill Laswell on bass and Karsh Kale on percussion, a building, charged bhajan second in energy only to the drum-and-bass mayhem of "Raja Veddalu." Radhika's voice flows sensually within "Lagi Lagan;" again she returns on "Rupa Tujhe Deva," creating a dreamlike trance evoked by Sufis and sages alike. The disc ends, as all transient creatures would hope to, with the peaceful solace of "Govinda."

What is most striking about Krishna Lila is its simplicity; layers of sound created by two instruments resonate louder than many an orchestra. The record is auditory yoga, an inspiring journey encircling the cosmos while rooted upon this earth. Cheb I Sabbah is a conduit for this energy to pass, dancing with the blue god in all his divine madness.

ethnotechno rating: 5 out of 5
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  1. Narajanma Bandage (pick)
  2. Voilin Solo
  3. Maname Diname (pick)
  4. Anjali
  5. Raja Vedalu (pick)
  6. Lagi Lagan (pick)
  7. Tum Bin Shyam
  8. Rupa Tujhe Deva
  9. Govinda