Jerry Johansson - Next Door Conversation
Review from Foxy Digtalis
I had decided that it would be a bit lazy to compare this ravishing disc to George Harrison. Given the fact that the predominant instrument is sitar, and that there is a definite symphonic feel to things as they episodically unfold, it just seemed too obvious. On the other hand, I was a bit stumped as to alternate musical landmarks to point out so that a prospective listener could get his or her bearings. Not to worry.
A bit of research revealed that the artist himself lists Mr. Harrison among his influences, which isn’t surprising since it has become a rite of passage to be introduced to the citrus hum and buzz of the sitar through Beatles recordings. Clearly Mr. Johansson has taken that ball of raga & run with it, becoming extremely well-versed in the complexities of the sitar, a somewhat baffling instrument for most folks & produced a wonderful, powerful recording here.
He is masterfully assisted by a string quartet from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, as well as musicians playing tambura & santour. This provides interesting counterpoints as tone colors shift from chamber music to Indian raga to an intoxicating blend of the two. The sound is tangy & creamy, flowing along with just enough air to feel improvised & alive, along with just enough structure to sound composed. I would say it is most likely a bit of both, and while there are ambient elements woven into the carpet (as the title would suggest), there is more than enough vibrant incense to sustain interest, just enough ambient shimmer to invoke anticipation.
This recording brings to mind both (interstellar) space & soil, evoking many moods & colors. Harken unto it.
(August 14, 2007)