Hear The Track HereAlmost exactly a year ago I reviewed Stephen Bellm's excellent Raga Primavera (April 2008), a blend of eastern and western music that was so well done it made it into my Tracks Of The Year list for 2008. Stephen has since sent me the CD that the track was meant for and - I shamefully admit - I've been sitting with it on my desk staring at my guilty expression for the past month. Although I get sent a lot of actual physical CD's, it's very rare that I will actually review one. However, because of Stephen's track, I felt duty bound not only to listen to the Kashi Kollective's The Space Within CD, but review it too. In case you are still puzzled, Kashi Kollective is made up of Stephen Bellm, David Mages (both multi-instrumentalists) and Kari Field who - intriguingly enough - specialises in that most Indian of instruments, the sitar.
If there is an instrument I love, it has to be the sitar.
Its clear right from the very beginning that Raga Primavera was no one trick pony. Daylight (the first track on the CD) is yet another lovely blend of the best of western and eastern with some killer flute from David Mages; ably supported with acoustic guitars, piano and Indian percussion. Definitely world music and of a high order, exactly what the doctor ordered. Flight takes a slightly different direction although the basic instrumentation remains the same, so there is a sense of continuity between the tracks - a feature of this excellently put together CD. Stephen is responsible for the piano, amongst other things, and his work on the tracks is just delightful, helped by an absolutely clear mix that is jaw-droppingly effective. Raga Esperando is where Kari comes into play and you can see that the years of studying the sitar (both in the US and India itself) gives her playing tremendous authority - this is one of my favourite tracks from the CD. All you need for this is a sunny day, a place to meditate and whammo, Nirvana...
Raga Primavera is track 4 on the CD and flows perfectly and is every bit as wonderful an audio experience as it was a year ago, an absolutely knockout example of truly creative world music. Sun Filled Face is yet another example of that special musical blend these musicians have, almost new age in feel but distinctly chill out in tone. The kind of track to drift away to... There again, I suppose you could say that about this whole CD. The real blinder track - for me anyway - was Raga Raindrop, an absolutely wonderful series of instrumental virtuosity that I have played and played and played. It helps that it segues perfectly into The Space Between, the title track of the CD. Regular readers will know I have a distinct aversion to anything with a whiff of new age about it and although this CD treads a very fine path between world music, chill out and new age, the irritant factor I usually get isn't even a factor. Most of that, to be honest, is down to the highly professional way the CD and music is presented; over all nine tracks and over forty minutes of music the flow from track to track is superb and the performance faultless. Obviously a lot of time, trouble, love and sweat went into this CD and it shows.
World class World music. Support indie music, only buy indie CD's!! MUST HAVE.