CD Review, 24/1/19: Trikala, by Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti, which appeared in March 2019 Songlines magazine.
Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti
Slap The Moon Records (138 mins)
One wonders whether in a past life Simon Thacker was a Bengali itinerant Baul mystic musician or perhaps a South Indian master of mridangam. Such is his grasp of the techniques and spirit of India’s disparate musical styles.
With extensive liner notes, this strikingly packaged double album is a mix of new Thacker compositions and “re-imagined” traditional pieces. Cutting a swathe across India, CD1 presents Hindustani, Carnatic and Punjabi forms, whilst CD2 has a Baul focus.
Trikala is Sanskrit for the three tenses: past, present and future, as whilst Thacker’s starting point might be Western classical and Indian traditions, his music is progressive, creating from all the strands something rather new. The album is further enriched by Thacker’s choice of master musicians to play, sing and improvise together in various constellations.
Highlights include on CD1, Thacker’s ‘Nirjanavana’ (“enchanted forest”) in which magical, echoed layers suddenly detonate into out-there jazz avant-garde-style high-jinks, before closing softly.
On CD2, the song ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ is a lovely setting of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem; (the exquisite lyrics are provided).
Replete with gorgeous melodies and shifting rhythmic complexity, Trikala is a highly successful syncretism, a major statement in the co-evolution of Indian and Western music.
TRACT TO TRY Nirjanavana
Keywords: Classical guitar, Indian classical music, Punjabi folk song, Baul music