SOUNDS FORM THE MOUNTAIN
Reviewing The Good Disciples New album THE MOUNTAIN PATH (Suriya Recordings, 2019)
It has been fifty years since Call of the Valley, Indian Music’s classic album,
Carved by Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia’s starred hands.
Now The Good Disciples appear, maestros of breath and dynamic; comprising
Kiranpal Singh on Santoor, Fabrice De Graef on Bansuri Flutes and Shahbaz Hussain on Tabla,
Who now show through their playing how each dutiful sound understands
All that has been formed from the wind blown and cast across mountains,
Rhyming through time as we travel down harmonic routes to our core.
Here the heart and soul unify as can be heard in this music.
As The Mountain path allows spirit to ascend and attain heaven’s door.
Petals in the Rain paint the trail, performed in two versions;
Charukeshi Alaap as an intro and then Gat (Matta Taal) as first steps;
Singh’s Santoor, as land craft surveying the ground that awaits them,
Overturning earth as Bansuri colours the air’s expectation
With a means to pass over all of the ills we’d forget.
Determination appears as the tabla forces footsteps, a positive dance
Across country in the search and the hope rain will cleanse
As the petals of blessing ascend from God above, as sky flowers
Decorate with fresh vigour the calls for the soul love defends.
Here then are the disciples of faith, making their way to the mountain.
The call of the valley sings to them. Let us in listening now, comprehend.
Transcendant – Chandrakauns is a call; a flute like drone across vapour,
Cast by resonance, the steam rising from the river of strings heard before.
Everything slows in this piece as the flute like line is thought forming,
As night descends and the mountain is shifting its shape through Santoor.
Fabrice De Graef sings to the dark, charming it like a fakir, with the snaking night
Risen and his rising heart placed in twain. The song enchants and beguiles,
With music revealed as true language, the last note held beyond dreaming,
A curative cast by music to rectify each day’s pain.
Song of the Forest – Jhinjoti dhun clatters in with growing light across branches.
The musicians travel, and tabla stirred, the dance sways. Across the patterns of light
And the ingenuity of each shadow, they seem to soar up the mountain,
Song birds on land, steeped in praise. Here are shimmers of sound
And a constant parade of detail, passing like clouds and wildlife
In all of their sweet disarray. The Forest alive, as if it were part of the youth
Of the mountain that these Good Disciples experience as they pass.
The clouds open up, as prised breasts of fruit admit flavour.
Renewal overwhelms us. With heart breath sparked, each bird laughs.
Exultation – tabla Rhythms (Sitarkhani) sound holds the energy of this moment.
The tabla is soundtrack to both the blood within and the foot
As it soul journeys on, charged and primed for endeavour.
Each expert variation resembles a flavour with Shahbaz Hussein
As Drum/Cook. He spices each step and as they play and we listen
The path itself changes colour moving faster than us held above,
The ground clouds and speeds as Hussein’s fingers find fervour;
The rippling path is an echo to the movements and speed traced in love.
Harmonic Reflections – Kirwani Alaap essays glissando.
Kiranpal Singh picking nimbly through a flutter of notes, the true way.
In Jor (Pakhawaj ang), a conversation is formed along this path to ascension;
Meditations, reflections on the task at hand and time’s claim.
Listening to this music, time moves from the immediacy of the moment
To a former stage when the joining of those on earth to the Gods
Allowed for the profundity of the path, one that has long been surrendered
And for which these good disciples find blessing in charting the journey
To revivify all that’s lost. Jor (Rupak) broadens all, and is the longest piece
On the album. It details the spirit’s expansion as each instrument fuses,
Becoming at once, singular. A three pointed star shining through both day
And darkness; Or perhaps heart, soul and body bracing fallen rain, stone
And scar. The path troubles here as the travelling causing trouble.
As if the lessons to be found on the mountain and across the valley of sighs
Could steal breath. And yet the flute scented bird careens on, despite
Catching its wings on low branches, to chase the light glimpsed
By all pilgrims when they lose sight of their master, and are placed by danger
Into the waiting realm marked by death. Man’s harmony with his end
Is as it is with salvation; the two are part of the music and the rhyming word
Or note that comes next. And so the Mountain path becomes life
And the valley itself, our existence. The mountain is transport, and we,
As we ride it become and wear its stone flesh. Gat (Teentaal) finds repose.
Danger cameos in a dischord. But soon a flutter of strings, breath and tabla
Allow a formative path to take hold. The determination returns, with even
Greater ardour as the disciples encounter death’s fatal force on the trail.
The tabla informs. The santoor glowers. The Bansuri flute capers,
Twisting a cage dressed by air. Soon even death is ensnared by the energy
Of survival , with each disciple as master. As the song continues
You feel the triumph and sheer primacy of their dare.
Follow the Mountain Path – Pahari Alaap is heart primed,
Majesty forming. The proud victor singing as each string resounds
From the chest. The mythic meets the man in this two minute tribute
To dream and desire winning the way, passing tests.
Follow the Mountain Path – Pahari Dhun now extends, taking a phrase
And translating across flute and tabla, the stylings of a past all should prize.
As we move along uncharted roads to cast our eyes to the summit
We picture the golden birds swirling, depicted in a dance across sky.
The journey is not just to a place but to a point beyond vision;
A place where all we encounter is transformed by time into art
And where music like this is the soul and sound made ecstatic
And where the instrument we’d all master is nothing finer
Than the organ within, our own heart.
Across the Valley (Nirwana) – Bhairavi Alaap so concludes
The magical realm in this record. The souls merge and river
As the clouds are exchanged across flute. Skies fold and unfurl,
As each instrument dances; the stately repose of attainment
And of ascension too, resolve clues that the continuing mystery
Sets. Where do we find the mountain? But the path is within us.
And this music helps us both answer the call of the valley
And all of the hopes and dreams we expect.
David Erdos March 10th 2019