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CD REVIEW: The Afro-Indian Project - Ravi
By Ben Ohmart - 08/02/2001 - 07:59 PM EDT

Artist: The Afro
Album: Indian Project - Ravi
CD Review: Instrumental world music fusion is what Ravi has put together, with the help of Hossam (riqq and hooves) and Danny Thompson (double bass), among others. Often World music refers to a particular corner of the world, but this time the name is spot on. Even the producer comes from a different corner – John Leckie has worked with The Verve, Radiohead and other many mainstream, hard acts.

Yet, there’s nothing hard about this delightful 11 track, 62 minute recording. Even at its most bubbly, most spirited, the smiling emphasis is on a folk music of distinctly original quality. The 8 minute ‘Shantiniketan’ is a combination between spiritual uplift and down home dance among polite Eastern socialites. I don’t pretend to know all the instruments that glide through, or the historical significance alluded to with such snappy airs, but sometimes there is a clue given in the cd booklet. This states, ‘The centre of learning and culture, North of Calcutta, created by the great Bengali poet, Tagore.’

On ‘Delhi Express,’ with its wild, wacky yet certainly measured jazz element, it’s explained that this cut is ‘portraying the unforgettable experience of Indian trains!’ Lyn Dobson’s sax certainly adds a Western spice that shoots a lazy aftertaste into the very busy proceedings.

This cd is on a UK label, ARC Music, one of the finest for World music in fact, proving that the globe is this release’s oyster. It’s a marvel and a shaking introduction to those of you who have heard some George Harrison and were deftly afraid to get more into Indian. Belay the fears, peasants, this is music that transcends authority and labeling and only seeks to be – beautifully industrious.

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