David Rothenberg and the Karnataka College of Percussion Featuring R.A. Ramamani
The WILD Foundation
Take three parts classical South Indian percussion, one part improvisational clarinet, two parts vocals (spoken and sung), mix well with freely collaborative musicians of environmental conscience and an appreciative audience, and you get Bangalore Wild .
Recorded live at the 6th World Wilderness Conference in Bangalore, India, the CD begins with three ragas showcasing the prodigious talents of the Karnataka College of Percussion. Mridangam drum and violin lead the way in these South Indian rhythms, sliding sinuous as snake dancers around R.A. Ramamani’s singing; then the tavil bass drum rumbles in, accompanied by the higher-pitched clay-pot ghatam, kanjira tambourine, and morsing Jew’s harp. Ranging from restrained and meditative to ululating abandon, Ramamani’s voice more than holds her own against these percussive tides, enveloping the listener in a veil of warm sound, then whirling it all away in a laughing gypsy dream.
Then come two of David Rothenberg’s compositions, with numinous spoken words accompanied by taped sounds (including Weddell seals), ghatam drum, and clarinet. Floating out across a gray Arctic of the imagination, Rothenberg’s warm clarinet breathes life into the dead landscape, speaking the word of creation into the heartbeat of the drum, whirling blazing sparks of soul into the air to animate the frozen darkness.
All the musicians collaborate on the final four tracks. The blend isn’t seamless; three of these tracks were recorded in rehearsal, and you can hear the performers learning each other’s ropes and rhythms. Everything works together perfectly on the closing concert recording of “Lament for the Vanishing,” though. First comes the clarinet, soloing slow and mournful for the creatures and places we’ve lost; then mridangam and morsing join in, showing that no one has to bear their losses alone, while Ramamani adds her strong voice to the outraged protest, trading the melody with the clarinet and mridangam, whirling faster and faster till the final hand-drum roll fades into the sudden silence.
All profits from sales of this CD benefit The WILD Foundation and its efforts to protect wilderness areas around the world. To order, write the foundation at P.O. Box 1380, Ojai, CA, 93024, call 805-640-0390, or visit http://wild.org/cd.html.