Pandit Ram Narayan – L’Inde Du Nord: L’art Du Sarangi, 1971

Another favorite from the Ocora catalogue. Pandit Ram Narayan was the first internationally successful sarangi player, credited as responsible for the introduction of the sarangi as a solo concert instrument in Hindustani classical music. He’s also responsible for developing simplified sarangi fingering techniques, and elements of his tone and inflection have been widely mimicked and adapted by subsequent generations of sarangi players. There’s lengthier information about the ways in which he pushed the boundaries of both the instrument and the genre here.

The short version of the story is that this record is incredibly beautiful, and serves as a plain reminder of why the sarangi was traditionally treated as a filler instrument during solo vocal performances, meant to imitate the vocals. Ram Narayan’s sarangi is so expressive that it feels human: crying, lilting, taking melismatic nosedives and acrobatic leaps. It’s piercing but never shrill. It’s something you should hear before you die.

Note: I spent awhile wavering between sharing the original recording, which has some room tone, vinyl pops, and a sound that is both richer and muddier; and the remastered version, which is cleaned up and has a sound that is clearer but thinner. I settled on the original, but if anyone feels strongly about hearing the remastered version (which includes an additional râga), let me know and I’ll post it.

Judee Sill – Judee Sill, 1971

Guest post by Cora Walters

The more I listen to Judee Sill’s music, and specifically this album, the more I come to think of it as a church. The perfect soundtrack for finding your way. Her earnestness and skill as a singer and lyricist certainly rank her among the sweet sirens of the seventies – Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton, Linda Perhacs, Bridget St. John, Nico – but what sets her apart is her constant craving. Surreal parables swirl around, clutching to make contact or to make sense of the world and her place in it. Each song is a hymn of her own mystical making. Even at its most baroque (“The Archetypal Man”), twangy (“Ridge Rider”), or pop (“Jesus Was a Cross Maker”), she’s driftin’ and “lopin’ along” some serious terrain – the rocky road to salvation.

Tangerine Dream – Alpha Centauri, 1971

The beginnings of kosmische, a term coined by Edgar Froese himself. Tangerine Dream’s second record, and their first with synthesizers (Froese on an EMS VCS 3), though organ and flute take center stage. Hints of early new age, though it seems as if Tangerine Dream wasn’t content to make pretty music, perpetually undermining their melodic moments with shrill, razor-sharp edges. Sixteen year old Chris Franke on percussion. Froese also plays the coffee machine on the title track, though I can’t quite figure out where. Rather than describe this to death, I’ll leave you with some liner notes:
The music material of this album was felt by Tangerine Dream 
This album is dedicated to all people who feel obliged to space