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Album Review

Samadhi is a collaboration between Czechoslovakian vocalist Nada Shakti and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Bruce BecVar. But while Shakti's vocals are based on the ancient chants of India, BecVar's blend of Western synthesizer soundscapes with slight touches of Indian instrumentation suggest Samadhi is based more in the traditions of new age than anything else. "Gayatri Mantra-Illumination Mantra" is awash in reverb and accompanied by a forest of rattling percussion instruments; keyboards patter somewhere in its echoing depths as Shakti intones a mantra. Likewise, "Jyoti, Jyoti" sounds like it was recorded in an enormous cavern. Shakti's chant chases itself around in circles over keyboard effects straight out of the new age how-to handbook. Shakti and BecVar do make concessions toward reverence, letting tracks like "Jaya Narayani" and especially "Sita Ram" exist with little or no synth tinkering. But there's the feeling that the duo isn't as concerned with the tradition as it is with creating spiritual relaxation music for an eager Western market. Like free-trade organic coffee that's mass produced at a factory, Samadhi has the flavor of its heritage but not the satisfying taste. This can be a drawback or a plus, depending on your outlook. For fans of world-influenced new age, the record will offer plenty. But for those curious about India's chants or looking for a more organic sound, Samadhi might not be the best place to start.

Biography

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s

This California guitarist and synthesist writes highly melodic, commercially accessible ensemble music. Though he plays most of the instruments himself, his technique on acoustic guitar is most admirable. He's also a well-known luthier — one of...
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Samadhi, Bruce Becvar
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