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Shiva Station

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 10, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Respected dotar player and chant master Jai Uttal proves once again you don't need a highly self-conscious message or calculated vigilance to successfully mix music of East and West. Uttal approaches his unique blend of jazz, Indian, and world music just as any experienced musician long familiar with his instrument would: as a jam session meant to spin a groove or draw on inspiration rather than highlight a single genius. Shiva Station is a testament to this refreshing approach, somehow mixing a laid-back Miles-style horn with a smooth-jazz dotar, somehow slipping a wah-wah pedal into a reggae-doused groove, somehow laying the rock and funk under ancient Indian chant. All this with a dash of banjo, trombone, and violin and the styles cook up a stew surprisingly tasty. Uttal's secret? It may be that he approaches music without apologizing for being Western while allowing inspiration from the East to flow through him authentically. He locks into the Indian tradition in the name of musical spirituality rather than a star's ego and the effect is mesmerizing. His backing band, the Pagan Love Orchestra, reflects this understated aura as well. It features some of the finest musicians from America and beyond in collaborative, eclectic jamming--most notably on "Malkouns" and "Bhajore"--that will blow you away.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 10, 2009)
  • Label: Pavana Suta Music
  • Run Time: 68 minutes
  • ASIN: B00267S6OM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,259 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a thoughtful and consistently interesting release by Jai Uttal. There's plenty of precedent, both good and bad, for western musicians appropriating Eastern music, but the fact that Uttal lived in India, toured with Indian musicians and studied with Ali Akhbar Khan lends a note of credibility to the proceedings. And if Uttal made a living on previous albums by appropriating contemporary Indian "Raga Rock", he's all but evolved past that practice here. Songs such as "Malkouns (Night On The Ganges)" and especially "Bhajore", with its hair-raising trombone solo, are simply smoking, funky, and exciting exercises in East/West fusion the likes of which isn't often seen this side of Bombay (or the other side, for that matter). The songs are surprisingly rooted in classical Indian music, especially Mantra-like invocations like "Shiva Station (Nama Shivaya)" but are given a contemporary feel by Uttal's synths, ambient guru Bill Laswell's dub touches and lush mixes, and the oftentimes exciting orchestration and backing by the pure funk of The Pagan Love Orchestra. "Sita Ram" is a great example of this balance, keying on Uttal's heartfelt repeated titular mantra with deep dub beats, basslines and airtight horn arrangements. Uttal himself, posessing a fine voice, occasionally missteps a bit with the more new-agey, slower stuff like "Calling You", but even his mostly unadorned "Corner" is a fine, moody solo piece indeed. Recommended highly to fans of Bill Laswell, Peter Gabriel and other world-music experimenters, or those that enjoy more dense, thoughtful, genre-straddling music.
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By A Customer on November 7, 1999
Format: Audio CD
 
 
Track 2 Shiva Station is reggae influenced. The guitar is tuned to sound like a sitar. Uttal's voice absolutely booms out at you. He sounds like the devotee in love with the guru and his / her teachings, wanting to take all on board, immersing himself in the fountain of divine truth. Jai Uttal does more to promote the concept of Indian religious music through this band than a lot of musicians who are involved in the east-west fusion game. I spent several months in an ashram in Herrakhan India about ten years ago doing exactly what Uttal does (not anywhere as well I may add). Hearing Jai Uttal singing these songs of praise and devotion always brings back good memories for me. repetition of the mantra brings on its own trance like state and as such JU sounds like he is in a semi permanent state of bliss and ecstasy, surrounded by his group of female backup singers. I can't help thinking that he has a beautiful voice. In fact it comes as a pleasant shock to suddenly hear him sing in English with the tune Calling You from Bhagdad Cafe. In fact on this recording he also sings in Bengali, Hindi and Sanskrit. Malkoun is an instrumental piece with all out support from the brass section, scorching guitar solos and killer bass playing. I assume from Mr Bill Laswell who mixed this release. Mine is a promo copy with not too much data but it sounds like him. Just as it sounds like it's all going to get bigger than Ben Hur, the harmonium brings it all to earth.
Rama Rhagawa-flute intro,electric guitar toned down into the background, JU sings introspectively, a muted trumpet weaving in and out of all this before the orchestra kicks in. For me a moment of sheer magic and poetry. Great to hear the Hammond organ.
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Format: Audio CD
Jai Uttal's Shiva Station is one of the best albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It combines traditional chanting with modern, upbeat sounds. It is inspiring. The composition is a great mix of today and yesterday, western and eastern, yet there is no compromise on the traditional selections. Two thumbs up!
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Format: Audio CD
Jai Uttal's music is very predictable. You always know you'll get something good. But no one track I've ever heard has been exactly the same as one I've heard before.

He shows his spirituality and musicianship consistently. But nothing really gets in the way of the listening experience. It's not that easy to make something simple and easy to listen to out of something that, compared with most modern music, is quite complicated.

There are three kinds of people who listen to Jai Uttal:

1: Those who are into his kind of spirituality.

2: Those who are into the music.

3: Those who are all the above.

4: Those who just want musical wallpaper.

It doesn't really matter whether you're a 1, 2 or 3. With Jai Uttal, it's easy: just dig it. If you're a 4, fine ... but be prepared to turn into at least a 2.

Some of his albums fall more easily into spirituality than the others - for example, "Music for yoga and other joys" - but Shiva Station is indisputably best for listeners in zone three.

I've listened to a handful of his albums, and got the desire to buy them too.

I disagree with the suggestion that he's taken Indian music and corrupted it into Reggae. That could only come from listening to a small part of only one track. What he's done is carved one more step in his path.

The hand of co-producer and guru Bill Laswell is evident more on some tracks than others, but that's the way he does it. And although Jai plays most of the instruments himself, there are more than a handful of others involved. The music is quite loosely hung together; at times it's almost improvisational. There are obvious Indian elements.
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