Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock definition

The private, metaphysical relations to oneself, to the other, the symbolism of existence are connected, transfigured by the particular expression of raga, classical India music. The emotion provided by this music is not only "affective". It's a real message, an aesthetic of the nature, of the divine, a virtue able to guide the listener to a state of emotional trance. In the mid-60's with the launch of international success of raga masters as Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan.European and American artists will become more and more captivated by the dynamical relation between mystical emotion, spirituality and music. The emergence of Raga schools from everywhere (still perpetuating the ancestral musical traditions), the initiatic travels of Western minimalist-modern jazz composers (Terry Riley, Don Cherry...) to India will participate to a growing interest for this musical universe. The emphasis on repetitive circular rhythms, ornamentation (gamaka), the use of acoustic stringed patterns, the sense of beatific endurance and lenghty improvisation are the central characteristics of this music in term of practice and sound aesthetism. Emotionally, the function on the listener is hypnotic, voluntary trying to reach him into a higher state of consciousness, modulating his perception of time and space. The basic conception of "drone" (continuous sound form) will be taken back in popular music and turned into "kosmische" electronica (70's Berlin underground). After Seventh sons' first original but rather discreet effort simply called "raga" (1964) and Malachi's holy music (1966), famous bands as the Beatles in "Revolver" (1966) and Traffic in their album "Mr Fantasy" (1967) will be seduced by the sonorities of Indian raga music. They occasionally incorporate sitar elements to their music. Among the most notorious artists who participate to the original dialogue between proggy rock and Indian music we can notice many jazzy formed musicians influenced by "world" elements (the guitarists Volker Krieger, Steve Tibbetts, the clarinet player Tony Scott). They are often recognised to practice a fusion between jazz rock harmonies and raga's instrumentations (tabla, sitar.). Among them Collin Walcott and Alberto Marsicano were Ravi Shankar's pupils. The world of "raga" rock can also include psych folk / drone-y bands (Quintessance, Fit & Limo, Flute & Voice, GHQ, Pelt...) and which are largely impregnated by mysticism, sonic meditation and sitar.

Philippe Blache

The responsibility for the psych/space, indo/raga, krautrock and prog electronic subgenres is taken by the PSIKE team,
currently consisting of
- Sheavy
- Meltdowner
- siLLy puPPy
- Rivertree

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Indo-Prog/Raga Rock | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.34 | 70 ratings
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
4.15 | 122 ratings
Shakti With John McLaughlin
4.13 | 43 ratings
4.13 | 16 ratings
Zendik, Wulf
3.98 | 35 ratings
4.13 | 13 ratings
Zendik, Wulf
4.22 | 9 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.91 | 32 ratings
Oriental Sunshine
3.86 | 38 ratings
Clark Hutchinson
4.00 | 13 ratings
Shankar, Ananda
3.85 | 25 ratings
Flute & Voice
3.97 | 12 ratings
Robertson, Don
3.93 | 14 ratings
3.85 | 21 ratings
5.00 | 2 ratings
Hortobágyi, László
3.88 | 15 ratings
3.80 | 26 ratings
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
4.00 | 8 ratings
3.93 | 10 ratings
3.80 | 21 ratings

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock overlooked and obscure gems albums new

Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Indo-Prog/Raga Rock experts team

Magic Carpet
Clivage, Andre Fertier's
Ceyleib People, the

Latest Indo-Prog/Raga Rock Music Reviews

 The Plains Of Alluvial by AMPS FOR CHRIST album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.86 | 3 ratings

The Plains Of Alluvial
Amps For Christ Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AMPS FOR CHRIST began in 1995 basically as the one-man project of Henry Barnes who stemmed from both the hardcore punk band Man Is The Bastard and its uglier harsh noise offspring Bastard Noise. The eclectic mix of sounds that made up this project was created to explore the disparate sounds of Barnes' noise and metal passions with his additional appreciation of various forms of ethnic folk, classical and jazz laid out in a rather Indo-raga compositional context.

Over the years AMPS FOR CHRIST has put out quite a few releases with THE PLAINS OF ALLUVIAL being their debut. It was only released on cassette in 1995 which is somewhat rare to track down and finally repressed onto vinyl in 2016. While clearly falling to the realms of the underground, AMPS FOR CHRIST scored in 2006 when Animal Collective invited the band to open for them on a West Coast tour which ushered in a newer generation of followers.

Musically THE PLAINS OF ALLUVIAL is a treasure trove of sounds that has found many labels to describe it with genres ranging from drone and electroacoustic to avant-folk, experimental rock, noise rock, art punk and even no wave. While all these sorta give a hint as what to expect, none really convey the fusion of the elements involved. The musical compositions range from traditional Celtic songs to Segovia type classical guitar tracks with some exhibiting highly applied feedback and fuzz much like a band like Boris and some truly fitting into a more Pagan based avant-folk like Natural Snow Buildings.

This debut is a strange beast as it contains 22 short tracks with most only lasting a minute or two. While some tracks like "Sitron" are straight out of the no wave playbook with angular rhythmic guitars jostling around like loose electrically wires and "Oscilin" sounding like some strange alien noise rock, most of the tracks are firmly based in some sort of Celtic folk setting to some degree with the occasional acoustic classical guitar appearances.

One thing that unique is that Barnes experiments with waveform manipulations and messes with instruments until he gets the desired sounds out of them which give the music a strange alien type of feel. Through the clever mixing of stringed instruments, pre-ampls and amplifiers he creates some strange and unnerving sounds that are utterly indescribable and some soft sensual traditional that sound fairly standard. Basically this debut will be only of interest to lovers of harsh noise rock as the meditative Indo-raga aspects don't really shine through on this one. Some cool stuff on here but sorta inconsistent as well.

 Saturnia by SATURNIA album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.88 | 15 ratings

Saturnia Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Anyone who thinks that the flower power hippie movement ended when the odometer hit 1970 couldn't be further from the truth. While nihilism and cynicism crept back in to rain on the peace and love parade, the overall vibe of the 60s never really left. It may have taken a snoozer now again but the alarm clock inevitably chimes and new generations are attracted to its lost promises. Such is the case of the Lisbon, Portugal based SATURNIA which was the brainchild of producer and multi-instrumentalist Luis Simōes who alone covers guitar, sitar, bass, theremin, gong as well as vocals.

Thirty years after the 60s ideology faded like Vietnamese villages smothered by agent orange, the hippie vibe was resurrected in Portugal as Simōes planned on creating a communal band however despite his achronistic tendencies, he nonetheless failed to attract kindred spirits to carry out his intended plans. Thus he became a one man band with a few guest musicians helping out.

Over the years Simōes has worked with many such guests including Gong's own Daevid Allen, Hawkwind's Nik Turner as well as Colour Haze's Stefan Koglek however on this eponymous debut that emerged at the turn of the millennium in 1999, the guest roster is a little more mysterious with no reliable credits cited over the internet (unfortunately i do not own this fine pleasantry so perhaps liner notes exist to shed light on this nebulousness).

If one was to judge from the album cover, this could've sat in the vaults since 1969 when artists like Quietessence, Oriental Sunshine, A=mh2 and Ananda Shankar were following the trend set forth by The Beatles to incorporate everything Indian into their rock music paradigm. However, this was the end of the 90s and much had changed in 30 years and the SATURNIA project utilized the similar in vibe electronic and indie aspects that graced the 90s with impunity.

This debut album embraces not only the feel good Rancho Relaxo vibes of the Summer of Love years but also takes advantage of the wealth of technological advances that had resulted in the ensuing decades. Since this falls into the Raga rock camp it goes without saying that the sitar is a predominant sound encountered in this album's run however what's unexpected is that this is equally a space rock album with techno drum and bass percussive drive with lots of ambient electronic effects as well.

Sounding like something between the 90s bigbeat Prodigy and more downtempo Portishead, this could easily have been played at a more chilled out gig in Ibiza with all the spring break college students smashed on E dancing their asses off like there's no tomorrow. Add to that a serene and chilled out church organ that slinks alongside the hyperactive beat adding a smoothed out chill zone. Also predominant are erratic fluttering electronic effects, another 90s trait. The production and mixing are masterful.

The vocals are quite subdued and even buried beneath the mix and the album comes across more as a DJ's tribute to an era passed as it certainly sounds more 90s than classic Indo-raga from the heyday of its popularity. This is definitely party music here. Not the the unhinged raves where the cops bust down the door and break out the firehoses but rather the nice house parties where friends come over to chill out and perhaps play Pictionary!

While the fusion of electronica and ethnic influences is certainly nothing new and especially in the 90s when whole compilations such as the outstanding Buddha Bar series exhibit similar sounds, SATURNIA is quite unique in how the drum and bass interacts with the organ, theremin, piano and sometimes off kilter no wave type guitar runs such as on my favorite track "Sculptress Sublime." While one can chill out and pay no attention to this music, the subtleties are quite attention getting. Really only the last track is bombastic. The rest is a cloud ride through the skies on that magic carpet ride. Nice!

 In Blissful Company by QUINTESSENCE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.26 | 38 ratings

In Blissful Company
Quintessence Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Many roads in rock and pop music since the 60s lead back to The Beatles and the fertile cross-pollination of Indian music with Western rock was one of the more popular ones following the Fab Four's brief stay at an ashram in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as their guru. Once George Harrison recorded his famous "Within You Without You" on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, the genie was out of the bottle and suddenly every musician was incorporating some sort of Indian reference in their music. While some rockers were content to simply find a spiritual guru, other's like the London based QUINTESSENCE went all the way and developed their own unique mix of jazz and psychedelic rock with progressive touches all completely infused with musical influences from India including full on chants, Indo-raga droning effects and of course the mandatory sitar and percussion. They were known for energetic and dynamic live performances.

The popularity of the whole East meets West thing grew so fast and so big that bands like QUINTESSENCE were literally snatched up after only performing a few gigs. The original line-up included Sambhu Babaji (bass guitar), Maha Dev (rhythm guitar), Shiva Shankar Jones (vocals, keyboards, percussion), Jake Milton (drums, percussion), Allan Mostert (lead guitar), and Raja Ram (flute, percussion), the last of which chose the name of the band implying a five unit quintet despite the band actually consisting of six members. Keeping with the trend, the band members were actually christened by Swami Ambikamanda who was the band's spiritual guru. Right from the bat the band had multiple record contract offers and chose the less lucrative route with Island Records because of the fact they could retain creative control.

The band's debut was released in 1969 at the height of the Indo-rock craze. The album contained eight tracks with most displaying the band more as rockers rather than Indian fusionists since the majority of the tracks are fairly typical and unfortunately rather dated sounding psychedelic rock songs from the era that implement a standard rock, bass and drum base with a passionate sort of Tom Jones vocal bravado. While firmly steeped in rock, the sitar, flute and occasional Indian percussion do add an exotic flare to their sound which for the time was fairly innovative (save The Beatles notwithstanding). Interspersed amongst the rock oriented grooves are segments that delve completely into the Indian spiritual practices such as the fifth track "Chant" which takes the listener on a psychedelic journey into the ashram for a musical meditation. Likewise the album's closer "Midnight Mode" ushers the album out in a mystical mode with more transcendental chanting and Indo-raga droning effects.

While other Indian inspired bands like John McLaughlin's Shakti were pioneers of stunning virtuosic fusion, QUINTESSENCE was a pure hippie band through and through with garage band musical talent, rather cheesy pan-continental fusion and an overwrought vocal style that seemed more fitting for the Las Vegas strip rather than a fitting tribute to Bollywood. The guitar delivers a rhythmic drive for the rock aspects and occasional bursts out some soloing as heard in "Manco Capac," but don't expect Jimi Hendrix or anything even close. One of the most pleasant aspects of the music is the sensual flute runs that sound to me like they could have inspired the flute aspects of Comus' masterpiece "First Utterance" as the style is actually quite similar although not nearly as accomplished. My buddy Ashratom (from Rate Your Music) nailed it when he pinpointed the band as a major influence on Marupilami as the vocal style, flute sounds and other aspects seemed to be primary influences in their more adventurous form of progressive rock a year later.

IN BLISSFUL COMPANY, as many others have stated, is well, rather dated! This is a period piece if there ever was one. This is not something i would choose to listen to on a regular basis. While some Indo-raga and Eastern influenced albums of the day were transcendental beyond the zeitgeist of the era and still retain an avant-garde aura, QUINTESSENCE sounds like they came out exactly when they did, namely the tail end of the 60s in the midst of the drug fueled psychedelic days of the hippie era. To be fair, the band had only just begun and immediately thrust into the studio to record this debut and they apparently were not ready for prime time. While they would improve their musical chops on subsequent albums, they would experience less than peace and love filled episodes that would cause them to slowly splinter off into irrelevance. Despite playing alongside bands like The Who and Mott The Hoople, QUINTESSENCE never quite caught on within the larger rock world. Perhaps things happened too soon for them to catch the right wave. Interesting as a relic from the era. Not a bad album but not great either.

 Third Ear Band by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.38 | 41 ratings

Third Ear Band
Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While initially forming out of the ashes of a band called Hydrogen Jukebox, percussionist Glen Sweeney switched gears to form THIRD EAR BAND, which was created to improvise Indo-raga type droning effects with freeform instruments that swirl like insects around the percussive drive. The band found success as they signed a three record album deal with Harvest Records. The debut release "Alchemy" displayed a totally unique form of musical experience that was part Indo-raga, part Medieval folk and part schizoid avant-garde bizarr-o-rama weirdness. Despite the completely freaked out nature of the album, this was the late 60s, a time when Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart were finding their day in the sun, and THIRD EAR BAND offered yet another mind altering musical experience to the impressive legacy of the era.

The second album, simply called THIRD EAR BAND continued the freeform improvisational setting of the debut album albeit in a slightly more accessible form, if accessible is the right word. By that i mean that this eponymous sophomore release is more structured and more tamped down by a steady percussive drive that sound to me like some sort of talking drums having conversations with one another. There are only four musicians. Percussionist Glen Sweeney, Paul Minns alternating between oboe and recorder, Richard Coff alternating between the violin and viola and Ursula Smith exemplifying her best cello torturing skills, however nothing on this second release is as far out and startling as the debut.

While eponymously titled, the album is affectionately called "Elements," that being due to the fact that it contains four tracks referencing the main elements of the Earth from antiquity. Those being of course: "Air," "Earth," "Fire" and "Water." Each track presents a musical motif that generates the overall vibe of the corresponding element. Therefore, "Air" is somewhat quickened like a vaporous gas with a heavy percussive drive and loose woodwind and string structures that are as formless as the clouds in the skies above. "Earth" is more grounded and sounds more like a Middle Eastern oasis stop with Arabian musical scales augmented by a rather Celtic sounding fiddling session that ratchets up ever slightly until it is fully caffeinated by the end of its near ten minute run.

"Fire," as expected is, well, fiery. This is the most avant-garde track on the album. While it utilizes the same steady percussive drive, it presents a cacophonous series of counterpoints like flickering flames in a campfire. The oboe provides an incessant drone while the recorder bounces around like a cauldron of popcorn at a movie theatre. Likewise the violin and cello are screechy and buzzing around each other like drunken bees on psychedelic honey. "Water" ends as the shortest track (just barely over seven minutes) and provides a nice relaxing counterpoint to the frenetic nature of "Fire." The drone enters and sustains uninterrupted for a long period. It is joined by ocean waves which i assume are field recordings. The percussion enters but is far gentler than any other track. Likewise the strings and wind instruments join in harmony as they gently unify to create a melody. This one offers a strange Celtic vibe with Medieval folk as the oriental influences have dissipated.

While far more adventurous than the average rock band of the 60s, "Elements" does tame down THIRD EAR BAND's bombastic display of their debut "Alchemy" quite a bit. Although staunchly avant-garde, this one has a smoother and more mature display of the musical flow. While some may deem this too repetitive or even dare i say, boring, i find this to be quite meditative. It has a passive beauty with the complexities shining through on the dissonant freeform counterpoints of the strings and woodwinds. It's also easy to hear how THIRD EAR BAND's improvisation style built on droning rhythmic flows of percussion were antecedents to the electronic pioneers of industrial as well as the more artistic angularities of post-punk especially in the no wave world. While not as adventurous as the debut, this one has a charm all its own in how it flows in a more controlled fashion. Another great album by THIRD EAR BAND.

 Dance Of The Cozmic Warriorz by ZENDIK, WULF album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.13 | 13 ratings

Dance Of The Cozmic Warriorz
Wulf Zendik Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Wulf Zendik was an American author, musician, philosopher, poet and commune leader. His tribal community was in Texas and the word Cult certainly gets mentioned in reference to to this. He passed away in 1999 but his commune lives on apparently. They believed in protesting in an artistic way not with guns or violence. Sex, drugs and rock and roll you could say. His last name(not his real name) means outlaw or heretic and he was anti-establishment, anti-government for sure. This six piece band must have practised a lot because they are really good. His band was known as the ZENDIK FARM ORGAZTRA. Some exotic instruments are in play here including his own made up instrument similar to a saz. He plays flute and sings. His vocals remind me of the singer from COMUS with that sheep-like, quivering style. Really good.

The year of that this was released can't be confirmed but I've seen 1988 in another place besides here so I'm going with that. And yes a top three for that year right now. We get just under an hour of Psychedelic music, very trippy at times with vocals on 4 tracks. "Yang Yin" is the almost 14 minute opener that has a distinct "Spirit In The Sky" vibe with that rhythm and distorted guitar. He sings about snorting crystals, smoking outrageous weed and drinking black blood. Alrighty then. He gets pretty passionate with his vocals and they really are incredible.

"Farm Jam" has lots of percussions and an exotic vibe as well. Catchy stuff although those loud ear piercing sounds before 5 1/2 minutes I could do without but they are brief. "The Kiss" is kind of creepy actually lyrically. We get keys and what sounds like an upright bass on this one instead of the bass guitar everywhere else on here. "Madman" is really uptempo with vocals. Check out how passionate he sings late to end it. Excellent.

"Danze Of The Cozmic Warriorz" is an almost 11 minute Krautrock inspired piece, very trippy and my favourite. We get flute over top and fuzzed out guitar in this all instrumental jam. "Lets Get Stoned" is uptempo with exotic sounds as Wulf sings about getting stoned on the farm. Very repetitive but really good. "Inzanity" ends it and this is the heaviest tune with screaming sounds over top. A trippy beat with distorted guitar. What a closer!

while I completely disagree with what this commune represented I'm rating the music alone and man this just connects with me. I real surprise actually and quite refreshing to hear something a little different from the norm.

 Sound Awareness by BROTHER AH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.86 | 3 ratings

Sound Awareness
Brother Ah Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Robert Northern or better known as BROTHER AHH is one of those jazz musicians who has been around forever having established himself as long ago as the late 50s after a classical French horn education at Austria's Vienna State Academy and worked with many of the greats that spanned the 60s, 70s and beyond including Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Don Cherry (as well as many others) but is probably most famous for his run with the great Sun Ra as the french horn player in his Astro-Affinity Arkestra in the early 70s on albums such as "Atlantis" and "Sound Sun Pleasure!!" Northern himself emerged from The Bronx in NYC and also studied at the Manhattan School of Music before heading off to Austria.

While playing his gigs with Sun Ra, Norton was becoming extremely intrigued by non-Western music styles and ultimately visited and studied in Africa throughout the 70s. As well as contributing to a massive number of albums by other artists including John Coltrane's seminal "Africa/Brass" in 1961, McCoy Tyner's "Tender Moments" and Thelonious Monk's "Orchestra In Town Hall" amongst countless other appearances, by 1972 Norton began to release material under his own pseudonym BROTHER AHH with his debut SOUND AWARENESS being released on the Strata East label in 1972 after finding time away from the Sun Ra Arkestra's demanding schedule. Keeping in the spirit of the avant-garde and otherworldly sound that Sun Ra had been developing throughout the 60s and well into the 70s, BROTHER AHH explored similar territories with emphasis on two side-long tracks that included the extradorinaiy talents of Max Roach on drums and his percussion ensemble M'Boom as well as a 90-piece vocal choir. Despite the similarities in approach, the music sounds nothing like the world of Sun Ra and comes off as nothing else i've ever experienced.

Side one (of the original Vinyl LP) consisted of the multi-movement piece "Beyond Yourself (The Midnight Confession) which was broken down into the segments "Introduction," "Rap," "Midnight Confession," "Fear," "Demons," "Morning Song" and "Dawn" that tells the tale of a man's struggle to eschew the temptations in life in order to become a monk. Musically speaking this one delivers an avant-garde mix of minimalistic jazz and flute (both played by AHH) that sprawl into lysergic atmospheric expanses of a sound journey that evokes an ethereal and spiritual vibe. Although the track can sprawl on for lengthy segments, there are moments of spaced out echoey noises with startling shouted lyrics before chilling out into a haunting yet mellow mode again complete with ghostly voices reaching to the heavens (kind of reminds me of the vocals on the theme song from the original Star Trek only much more freaky.) The track gets super freaky as it meanders with intermittent echoing percussive drives, a subdued lugubrious horn section and the aforementioned ghostly vocals. There are also times that the echo effect is so strong that it begins to sound like a whale song under the sea.

Side two consists the single track "Love Piece" which contrasts greatly (towards the end) as it experiments much more with a heavier emphasis on various styles of ethnic percussive styles performed by Max Roach and his ensemble while vocal outbursts serve as a faculty of agitation to instruct the instruments to perform as well as prodding the 90-voice choir to eschew a total breakdown in order. The piece starts out as a single flute solo that is airy and light sounding more like some sort of ancient Japanese koto music from the Edo period with only a few sparse shakers as percussion, but a few minutes in the horn and vocals fire up with the horns dominating at first with fiery interplay between the French horn, the flute and a tuba. Once the percussion kicks in though, all hell breaks loose as Max Roach delivers a poetic rant about desperation and destruction that starts to sound something like a mix of an African-American gospel service and a tripped out Haitian voodoo ritual all dressed up with avant-garde jazzy time signatures, intermittent instrumental accompaniments and a crowd that gets more and more worked up after every spoken word statement.

For anyone into the most freaked out aspects of Sun Ra's works, this will feel right at home and although in the same ballpark isn't an exact replica of that great Ra's style. This is another bizarre mixture altogether of psychedelic lysergia, avant-garde jazz, tribal rhythms and philosophical reflections taking the listener down extended journeys into bizarre soundscapes that paint diverse colors and varied texturized canvases. While Northern would continue to release more of his own works, he would also continue to collaborate with a diverse array of artists in the jazz world and beyond as well as expand his interests in the different ethnic musical styles of the world. On this bizarre debut called SOUND AWARENESS though, he managed to create a completely wild and unrelenting ride from placid detached ethereal soundscapes to a full-on stampede of percussive drive that ends the album in full bombast. This is an excellent album that carries on the Sun Ra type traditions and takes them somewhere that Ra himself never envisioned.

4.5 rounded down

 Ananda Shankar by SHANKAR, ANANDA album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 39 ratings

Ananda Shankar
Ananda Shankar Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars ANANDA SHANKAR has a recognizable name if you are familiar with the extended family tree of the great Indian musician Ravi Shankar. ANANDA was the son of the famous dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar and the nephew of the great Ravi Shankar himself. During the latter part of the 60s, the world music cross-pollination effect was en vogue with extra interest in the exotic sitar ragas of the ancient land of India. ANANDA followed the family tradition and became classically trained on the sitar and left his native Bombay (now Mumbai) and headed to California in the USA to hop on the bandwagon of the craze of ethnic rock fusion that was initiated by the sounds he heard from The Beatles on their 1965 track "Norwegian Wood." While the West, particularly The Beatles had begun to flirt with adding Indian sitar to rock sounds, ANANDA SHANKAR would become one of the first Indian musicians to reciprocate this process and one of the very first Indian musicians to start shmoozing with the greats of the time like Jimi Hendrix.

All of this Western exposure ultimately led ANANDA to create the very first rock (well loosely speaking) album by an Indian sitarist which was released in 1970 when he hoped to capitalize on the increasing popularity of the raga rock trend of the era. On his eponymously titled debut release, ANANDA created a mix of rock music with moog synthesizers and Indian Hindustani classical music with instruments such as the sitar and tabla. The album starts off with a couple of instant attention grabbing covers of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones and "Light My Fire" by the Doors which while admittedly are a tad gimmicky are quite excellent performances. However, despite the obvious temptation of just making an album of covers, ANANDA performs six other original tracks which admittedly sound closer to the Indian side of the equation than the rock with tracks like "Metamorphosis" completely dependent on sitar and tabla interactions albeit with a strong bass line and an infused burst of rock energy.

While the majority of the tracks are kept short and well within the attention span of the average pop rock listener, the track "Sagar (The Ocean)" sprawls out to over 13 minutes and 13 seconds and is a whole different league of psychedelia as it has the time to slowly unravel a mysterious and atmospheric sitar and moog collaboration into a Hindustani classical music experience wrapped around a simple organ scale that repeats as the sitar grows more restless and performs ever increasingly more dynamic finger gymnastics. Although the track creeps along, it gains strength towards the end with a heavy percussive drive and a fully caffeinated sitar. While the album is almost entirely instrumental, the beginning "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and final track "Raghupati" is chock full of vocals which includes a full chorus. The latter also has different styles of traditional Indian chanting as well as perhaps the most rock sounding compositional style of any track except for the two covers.

While the term rock attached to this may be hard to swallow for Western ears, it should be remembered that this is the exact opposite approach of bands such as the Beatles who dressed up rock songs with Indian instruments. This is at its heart Hindustani traditional classical ragas that have flavors of rock, not necessarily in the instrumentation per se but rather in light touches of compositional approach and energetic drive especially in the Moog organ department. While i was always in the opinion that this was a cheesy attempt of 60s pop rock fusion only by having sampled the two covers, this is in face a fairly sophisticated and stylistic display of Indian music crafted with eerie electronics and a rock infused work ethic.

While this doesn't quite reach the heights of John McLaughlin's works with his Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti for complexity, it is a beautiful mix and an interesting snapshot of the time and era when the Indo-raga rock trend was at its peak. While much raga rock of the day seems to be grounded in a droning technique, the debut release of ANANDA SHANKAR is a brilliant mix of traditional Hindustani classical raga techniques and Western pop rock which makes this a lot more accessible upon first listen for the majority of listeners. This one straddles the line between secular and transcendental and is quite the compelling listen.

 The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble by ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE, THE  album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 5 ratings

The Entourage Music And Theater Ensemble
The Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While sometimes nestled into the world of psychedelic folk and even Indo-raga surrealism, the musical entity called THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE was actually more of a complex avant-garde type of third stream ambient band that based its music on flow energy and the dream state experience. Initially forming in Baltimore, MD, they relocated to Millbrook, NY and then settled in New London, CT. The group was formed in 1970 by the two founders Joe Clark (sax and keyboard player) and Rusti Clark (viola and guitar player) and no they were not related. The band also consisted of Michael Smith on percussion and Wall Matthews on guitars, keys and percussion. They would also add different flavors of exotic instruments. While the music more than stands up on its own, it was actually designed to be performed in theaters in combination with dance ensembles in order to create a visual and auditory union.

The band released three albums with the first two appearing on the Smithsonian Folkways label. The eponymous debut was released in 1973 to mostly positive reviews which touted the group as being highly original and a breath of fresh air in the oversaturated experimental music market. The music itself was designed to accompany the universe of avant-garde theatre and dance and was built on both lengthy and short acoustic improvised ecstatic pieces. They were renowned for their magical live performances but even without the visual accompaniments, THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE did indeed create some of the most unique and complex musical experiences of the early 70s outside the context of progressive rock itself (which this outfit is loosely associated with). The band itself consider their music a form of avant-garde experimental pre-ambient that offers a nice hermetic-poetical-exotic flavor.

Personally i'm actually stumped as to how to label this bizarre musical experience myself. Avant-garde definitely covers it, but as we all know, that is a term designated for the unclassifiable and for the type of arts that exist in a realm unoccupied by others. Throughout this nine track album parades a whole plethora of musical styles and genres neatly wrapped into one. One constant is the acoustic unplugged nature of the band however beyond that simple classification, the genre twisting is quite eclectic. There seems to be traces of Western classical, bona fide Indo-raga (in the opener "Piece for E-Flat Soprano Saxophone, Guitar, and Thumb Piano), jazz, free-form folk, psychedelia and even exotic Middle Eastern scales (as heard on tracks like "Giraffes.") Tracks that lack percussion and focus on complex melodic counterpoint (such as the percussionless "Episode") and those that exclusively rely on percussion such as the aptly named "Percussion Dance" which brings out an interesting array of drum interplay and cymbal action. The vibe can come across as a chamber orchestra such as The Penguin Cafe Orchestra and as experimental as the avant-garde artists of the 60s such as Terry Riley or Harry Partch.

This is a group that i've never encountered until my recent sudden dive into the psychedelic folk and Indo-raga world of the 60s / 70s era and i have to declare that THE ENTOURAGE MUSIC AND THEATER ENSEMBLE is one of the best groups in these nebulous classifications. They were extremely talented as musicians and could effortlessly fuse all the disparate genres complete with demanding time signature deviations and somehow still retain a free flowing melodic state that was gentle on the ears. Perhaps the closest band i could compare them to would be Codona but that would be only be a generalization since this group was in a league of its own. Listening to this album 44 years after its release only reminds me of how much music i missed out on in the magical era where creative minds flourished and flowed like Angel Falls. The live performances must have been divine since the music segregated from the visuals is quite intricate and beautifully composed. While the psychedelic vibe of the 60s is well retained in the free-form flow of the music, the technical aspects are quite well developed. My favorite combo effect! Highly recommended for those who love 20th century avant-garde Western classical complexities infused with the gentle warmth of traditional folk and world ethnic music.

 Tanyet by CEYLEIB PEOPLE, THE  album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.77 | 17 ratings

the Ceyleib People Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While the cross-pollination of other cultures was the norm starting in the middle of the swinging 60s with a particular interest from the exotic and ancient lands of India where every celebratory and musician seemed to be in search of their spiritual guru of choice, many musicians jumped on this bandwagon and added the oriental sounds of sitars, tablas and other exotic instruments to their music in hope of finding that perfect bridge of cultures. While The Beatles opened the floodgates with George Harrison's contribution of "Within You, Without, You" on their hugely successful "Sgt. Pepper's" album, the trend actually began a few years beforehand and is properly credited to Sandy Bull who explored the drone guitar tunings in her folk music as early as 1963. By 1966 when the psychedelic scene was taking off like a rocket, so too did the cross-pollinating cultural musical fusion of world ethnic music with one of the primary interests existing in the Hindustani classical music of India which came to be known as raga rock or Indo-raga rock despite the fact that many of the artists who were engaging in this type of music didn't include much rock in the equation.

Amongst one of the earliest of these groups was the Los Angeles based THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE who only released one ridiculously short album called TANYET which came out in December 1967 and has one of the more exotic and memorable album covers of the era. When i mean short, i mean that this album consisted of two sides that totaled a running length of slightly over 23 minutes long which in modern day terms would be classified as an EP but despite the short length, this is actually one of the more interesting raga rock relics of the era which included a fledgling Ry Cooder who only recently got scouted out by Captain Beefheart to perform on his debut album "Safe As Milk." While many raga rock albums of the era tended to focus on droning or two musical words passing the baton to each other, on TANYET there is a true musical fusion of cultures that works out quite well. With an ensemble of ten musicians, the group consisted of traditional rock instruments such as guitar, bass, drums and keyboards along with the more exotic sitar (with 3 players), tamboura and even some woodwinds.

TANYET is roughly divided into two parts. "Part 1" begins more as a blues rock tune with Ry Cooper wailing away heavy guitar riffs that fade out and give way to the sitar and woodwinds and carries on for awhile as cosmic raga vibes permeate the sound and induce a hypnotic trance. After a while an almost Bollywood type melody emerges which allows the blues rock guitar to flourish alongside the sitar and percussive jams without sounding like each is competing for sonic domination. The symphonic counterpoints to the percussion become more detached and independent until the track suddenly changes to a woodwind and sitar duet but the symphonic keys return to echo the melody. Each part is subdivided into six subparts so they change the mood and dynamics as they transfer to the next. There are very few vocals on this one and towards the end there's even a Western classical outburst to end "Part 1" with a Paganini type of violin solo.''

"Part 2" sounds more like traditional raga music as it emulates a Ravi Shankar type of unaccompanied sitar composition. After a transition the blues guitar dominates with rock styled drumming but it sounds like a sitar is trying to adapt in the background and occasionally stands out. As the part continues the same general patterns where it successfully mixes up the Western and Eastern sounds which alternate and fuse randomly. In general sitars may introduce a theme or vice versa with blues guitars and the other side joins in to fulfill the melodic development. TANYET is somewhat of an obscurity but not super rare. The album was released several times and even on CD where it contained the album played twice with a different mix. The videos on YouTube are a mess as i really had to piecemeal the whole thing together to hear this in the proper order.

It was very much en vogue in the day to take popular music and do raga versions of them, but THE CEYLEIB PEOPLE did an excellent job of eschewing the cliches and conjuring up a nice multi-cultural mishmash of American and Indian sounds that work quite well together. True that the album does sound like a bunch of hippies of the era getting together to jam without taking the time to instill any sort of technical wizardry and production details, but personally that's what i find interesting about this type of music. It feels like a raw jam session that transports me back to an authentic feeling of a certain era. While the genre would continue on and would arguable peak with John McLaughlin's led Shakti in the 70s, THE CELEIB PEOPLE created a tiny but authentically sounding relic of the era that sounds exactly what you would imagine raga rock to sound like if you had never experienced it before.

 Alchemy by THIRD EAR BAND album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.08 | 40 ratings

Third Ear Band Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The year 1969 was amazing year of explosive experimentalism in every direction with artists like Cromagnon, Amon Duul II, Captain Beefheart, early Alice Cooper and not to mention prog classics like King Crimson and East Of Eden hitting the marketplace leaving listeners grasping for new nomenclature to slap onto the hitherto unheard sounds spewing forth. While free-form and improv were certainly nothing new having been a staple of the jazz world for decades, the rock scene was relatively new to the game and the freedom that the 60s offered gave a green light to artists far and wide to fly their freak flags as high as they could possible fly.

One such band was the THIRD EAR BAND which was formed by Dave Tomlin who participated in free-form jazz sessions at the London Free School and took the show over to the famous UFO Club where he would solicit a free-form group of audience members and band members after hours to engage in spontaneous jams around Indo-raga, European folk, Medieval classical and experimental styles. While they gained the name Giant Sun Trolly, they soon attracted the attention of the EMI Harvest label, changed their name to THIRD EAR BAND and found minor success with their first two albums. This debut ALCHEMY displays all the styles that they set forth in the club scene in all their improv jam session freedoms and laid down to tape.

While loosely tied in with progressive rock, this isn't rock at all but rather a strange mix of tribal percussion such as chimes, tabla and hand drums, chamber rock style oboe along with violin, viola and cello and other strange instruments such as slide pipes. This first album was actually promoted by the great DJ John Peel who contributes jew's harp on a couple tracks. The music flows much like an Indian raga in a linear way with the percussion keeping a constant rhythm while the strings and winds are allowed to float off into a fantasy world as they create fluttering melodies and build up tension until they transmogrify into too-fast-to-hear-individual- notes-ish type droning. The recorder seems to bring about the Medieval flavor which makes this album sound sort of like a Indo- raga prototype of Gryphon's first album.

While ALCHEMY may have come as a shock to the rock'n'rollers engaged in the psychedelic branch of the genre at the time, in reality it wasn't overly different in approach to what Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra were dishing out on their most outlandish albums at the time. Sun Ra would regularly use similar sounding tribal drumming with his improvised jazz section with similar bouts of dissonance and avant-garde compositional structures. THIRD EAR BAND takes a similar approach with more of a classical chamber ensemble of instruments that creates thick and impenetrable counterpoint melodies between the string section and the woodwinds. The tension is thick and it all comes across as a war march through the streets of the capital city (wherever that happens to be) as to rally the troops for an impending attack on a neighboring city state. Somehow they manage to keep a Medieval sort of feel throughout.

ALCHEMY was one of the earliest forms of psychedelic freak folk that showcased dueling woodwinds, completely unhinged violin and viola freak outs alongside meditative percussive beats. While most of the tracks adhere to that description, the near ten minute "Egyptian Book Of The Dead" sounds more like an early electronic industrial album as it creates and eerie atmospheric soundscape out of chimes and woodwinds that sound like the wind revealing esoteric knowledge in coded form. The track builds tension as the instruments come to life and eventually a sort of Native American powwow beat occurs but the crazy noises that come out of the cello are startling and totally frightening! This track is totally unhinged and the most successful at totally freaking me out with all the demonic tones, squeaks and frenetic entropy breaking out at the speed of light. The drums ratchet up the tension as the track nears completion as the squawking swarm of instrumentation begins to sound like a plague from hell ready to consume all of reality. OMG! I can't take it anymore. This has to be the scariest and most intense track of all the 60s!

After all is said and done, THIRD EAR BAND leave you feeling like you've heard something that you have never experienced before and even well into the 21st century, i still have never heard any other artist that sounds even close to the style that they displayed on their debut album ALCHEMY. While the band would change things up over time, this early artifact is a gem of avant-garde musical improv expression and most likely one of the major influences of many of the free-form electronic thinkers such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil and Nurse Without Wound that would take a similar stylistic approach only direct it into the world of electronica rather than the Medieval freak folk instrumentation. This is certainly a jarring one, but a totally unique musical experience that only could have come out in the completely tripped out year of 1969. While not as musical as Comus or Spirogyra, this one more than makes up for its lack of compositional complexities with clever sprawling drone inspired raga marches.

Data cached

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
500MG United States
CLEM ALFORD United Kingdom
ALUMBRADOS United States
ERIK AMLEE United States
ANDY BOLE United Kingdom
BROTHER AH United States
CODONA Multi-National
COSMIC EYE Multi-National
FIT & LIMO Germany
GHQ United States
THE HABIBIYYA United Kingdom
KALA United Kingdom
KANGURU Australia
MAGIC CARPET United Kingdom
MALACHI United States
PELT United States
VASANT RAI Multi-National
SADDAR BAZAAR United Kingdom
SATWA Brazil
SEVENTH SONS United States
SHANTI Multi-National
JIM SULLIVAN United Kingdom
THIRD EAR BAND United Kingdom
WULF ZENDIK United States

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives