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Chateau Benares

Sanjay Mishra

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Album Review

These East-West fusion projects can really go either way: it may have appealed to the better angels of listeners' natures when Ravi Shankar recorded with Yehudi Menuhin, but whether or not the musical result was really worth hearing is a separate, and more fraught, question. Guitarist Sanjay Mishra avoids most of the obvious potholes in the road to cultural harmony by not worrying too much about creating a musical fusion. Instead, he seems to be happy with an emulsion: a temporary mixture of unlike elements that adds up to a complex and exciting whole, without forcing any of the participants to pretend that they're something they aren't. Mishra himself is fully capable of jumping back and forth between classical, country, jazz, and rock guitar styles and then going off suddenly on flights of raga-derived Asian fancy before returning. But his accomplices on this album, who include turntablist DJ Logic, tabla player Samir Chatterjee, the brilliant flutist Steve Gorn, and veena player Barun Pal, mostly stick to their native idioms, and the result is a brilliant and multifaceted sound. Highlights include "A Different Morning," on which Mishra's Renaissance-inflected fingerpicked guitar blends surprisingly well with Pal's keening veena, and the equally brilliant "Logical Journey," on which the turntable is used as subtly and elegantly as you are likely ever to hear. "Raindrum" and "Mirror" are both just a bit static and uneventful, but even those tracks are quite enjoyable. Overall, this is a stunning album.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A native of Calcutta, India, Sanjay Mishra mixes instrumentation from both the Eastern and Western Hemisphere with modern rhythms. He has released several albums; Blue Incantation includes the guitar...
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Chateau Benares, Sanjay Mishra
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