On Sunday, November 24, 2013
The Nepalese trio Sur Sudha came together in the late 1980s for what amounts to a national-cultural mission. They set out to document the varieties of music in Nepal, and, given the remarkable contrasts in the landscape, it's no surprise that Sur Sudha's musical evocations span large distances. The musical highs and lows, though, are all kept within close reach of each other, reminding that Sur Sudha is a spare ensemble, employing only flute (Prem Rana Autari), sitar (Bijaya Vaidya), and tabla (Surendra Shrestha). The tunes here are compact, ranging from just over 5 to around 16 minutes, much in contrast to traditional Indian ragas, which can stretch to near eternity in their balance of drones and cyclic tabla rhythms. Like Indian music, these pieces feature each instrument closely entwined with the others, developing melodic units that spiral at a moderate and measured pace and featuring the sitar in a not-quite-drone role that sponges up the flute tones and wrings them back out in resonating solo segments. Listeners who enjoy standout solos as much as collective improvisations off raags (a musical scale similar to Indian ragas) will enjoy the work Sur Sudha has done to keep the band's direction balanced on an axis of expressive play.
Finding a way to remember Nepal. Pictures, encounters, scenery, atmosphere continually evoking harmony and tranquillity every hour of the day as I travelled winding roads through mountains, hills and over southern plains. This the music that evokes and expresses the images of the life and beauty, the people and their spirits that I sought, saw and seek to retain. I will listen to this music forever, swaying within its pulsating geographies and cultures and be uplifted and enthralled by the layers of rhythm. This is Nepal played and presented in sound and images that are direct and welcoming connections to the soul.
An absolutely gorgeous, lushly melodic album. Fans of Indian classical may find this familiar -- yet oddly dissimilar. Although the instruments are similar -- sitar, tabla and flute -- the music is not quite as langourous and deliberative; this has a more pronounced melodic drive which may actually make it more accessible to Western ears. Wonderful stuff. Highly recommended!
1. Raja Mati
2. Resham Firri
3. A Fisherman's Song
4. Stutee (Prayer)
5. Nayaki Kanghada
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