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Sitar Secrets

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Album Review

If it's Indian classical music you're looking for, you'll want to look elsewhere. However, unlike the many Western dilettantes who have picked up the sitar over the years, Al Gromer Khan doesn't just approach the instrument as an exotic novelty or a facile way to hint at spiritual depth. On the unfortunately titled Sitar Secrets he creates original compositions that refer to classical forms without being bound by them, and that convey a sense of contemplative wonder without pretending to any goal more transcendent than that. The opening track bears the wry (one hopes) title "I Got Vilayat Khan's Blessing" and features what is either a very convincing synthesized vocal track or an uncredited female singer who breathily accompanies his gently meandering sitar and sparse hand percussion. Two sections of "Raga Ahir Bhairav" are given a quite traditional treatment, with tabla and hand drums, but "PB's Bombay Club" is quiet, spare, and rather eerie, an impressionistic cloud of very soft percussion with faint intrusions of sitar. "Caru Caru" combines sitar with Bill Nelson-style synthesizer washes, to very pretty effect. It's very difficult to carry off this sort of project without succumbing either to cultural condescension or vapid new ageyness, and Al Gromer Khan's achievement on this album is very impressive.


Born: 08 April 1946

Genre: New Age

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Born in Bavaria in 1946, Alois Gromer has lived in England, India, and Morocco, which broadened his musical tastes and performing style. He attended a recital by sitarist Vilayat Khan and was so moved that he dedicated his life and art to the study of the sitar. After studying with master sitarist Imrat Khan, Gromer became a member of the Khan-i-Gharana dynasty in 1975 and added the Khan name to his own. His contemplative, contemporary approach to music made him popular in the arenas of radio and...
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Sitar Secrets, Al Gromer Khan
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