The first CD is from Victoria-based guru-bhai, Niel Golden. Niel is a master tabla player, whose musical travels have literally taken him around the world. It's a Journey (released in 2008) is a fitting title for this album. The album is an eclectic world-fusion mix, combining influences from Indian, African, and Latin music with elements of blues and pop.
Tabla is heard in practically all of the tracks, but it doesn't always take centre stage; but don't fret, there are definitely some tabla solos in there! Niel's use of tabla is quite tasteful, and varies from tune to tune. Each track is in a completely different style, which shows both Niel's and the tabla's versatility in accompanying different types of music. For example: the tabla tarang-like use of tabla in Maliwood Drive, the Rolling Stone cover in Paint it Black, and the modulating tabla in Blu Z. Niel is a big fan of the Swiss instrument, the Hang, which is also featured in a few tunes. Of special note is a guest appearance by Harry Manx on Mohan veena.
Favourite tracks: Bergamot, Hari OM
The next CD, is a more recent acquisition - Tibet2Timbuk2's Music is Life (released in 2009). Tibet2Timbuk2 is a project of longtime Internet friend and Benares gharana brother, Shen Flindell, who is based in Australia. Shen is a very talented tabla player, and aside from some online clips, this is the first full-length album of his that I have had the pleasure of listening to. Tibet2Timbuk2 is a trio that combines the musics of India, Tibet, and Africa. The result is a feel-good mix of upbeat world music. Honestly, every folk festival in Canada should book this band!
What really strikes me in Shen's playing on this album is his feel/groove, and above all, his truly exceptional baya playing. His baya's pitch is nicely tuned to the tonic (which surprisingly, not every tabla player does), and aside from that, he plays moving bass-lines with great accuracy. Who needs a bass player? :) The instrumentation of the trio allows each instrument to speak, with no one stepping on each other's toes. The singer's "super-vibrato" is certainly different! Of special note is guest artist Taro Terahara on bansuri.
Favourite tracks: Beautiful Girl/Bhumo Zhema, Ama
Music is Life can be ordered through EthnoSuperLounge. Proceeds from the sale of this album go to support Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, India.
That's all for now. Please let me know what YOU think of these albums!