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Saddar Bazaar - The Conference Of The Birds CD (album) cover

THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS

Saddar Bazaar

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.72 | 4 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The fondly remembered U.K Delerium Records label from the early Nineties housed a diverse and exciting range of artists on its roster, including everything from the Hawkwind-like Omnia Opera, charming Canterbury-styled band Moom, future modern Krautrockers Electric Orange and even the earliest Porcupine Tree recordings from modern prog notable Steven Wilson. Another interesting obscurity was Saddar Bazaar, a British group that blended frequently improvised droning sitar- driven instrumental raga-rock, psych and acid-folk vibes with swampy burning stoner guitars and the lightest of gentle keyboard backings on their captivating debut album `The Conference of the Birds' from 1995.

Opener `Sukoon' carefully sets a template for much of the album, a haze of groaning sitar, sparkling tabla and other exotic ethnic percussion instruments weaving a mellow atmosphere. It's also quietly joyful and embracing here, with the lightest of pristine electric guitar wisps gently reminding of German band Agitation Free's crossover of chilled electric guitar jamming and world flavours on their first two albums from the early Seventies. Both `Arc Of Ascent (Part One)' and `Kiff Riff' add some dusty bending blues, the former powered by chugging Ry Cooder-esque guitars and the latter casting a drowsy spell of multi-tracked sitar strains wrapping around the listener over the top of trilling ambient keys. Side one of the LP wraps on `Garden Of Essence' that takes on a drowsy head-bobbing hypnotic hold before grumbling with stony purpose.

The flip side's `Sukoon (Reflection)' electronically distorts a rambling sitar drone, `Shamsa (Sunburst)' begins life as a short but precious guitar reflection and `Baraka' bounces driven by strident percussion. `Arc Of Ascent (Part Two)' brings back the rumbling blues over spirited synth flightiness (nice quickie uptempo burst in the final moments too!), `Freedom Rider' is a final marshy stoner rocker blast and `Neelum Blue' is a placid and dreamy acid-folk/psych sitar/guitar rumination to gently come down on.

At forty-six minutes it's perhaps slightly overlong and just a little repetitive here and there, and this kind of music would probably work better by focusing on less but longer and further developed pieces (something a reworked version of the group would deliver on their very welcome comeback album `Seventh Valley' in 2016), but it's still an energetic, intoxicating brew of east-meets-west atmospheres, and just a cool album to have spinning in the background.

Three and a half stars...and the cover looks a treat on vinyl as well.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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