"Shri Durga" is a musical pigrimage into northern India and Pakistan led by DJ Cheb I Sabbah and some of the greatest living singers and musicians of Hindustani music, including the legendary Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, with bass by Bill Lazwell.
The CD liner notes state the guiding principle behind the music: "As one of the basic principles of Indian music, ragas sing the language of the soul and are devotional in spirit." If the listener allows it, this CD can offer a religious experience.
Born in Algeria, DJ Cheb I Sabbah has been spinning music since the 1960s, when he worked in Paris as the DJ for the groundbreaking theater troop "The Living Theater." Based in San Francisco, he has been an innovative DJ in clubs and a fixture in the world music scene.
DJ Cheb's variety of experience is what makes this CD different than your average amalgam of world music. Instead of sampling the singers and laying down tracks on top of the sounds, DJ Cheb created a complex set of loops and invited the musicians to perform ragas to those rhythms. This gives the music a truly organic feel, subtly weaving in the electronic influences and aural sensibilities from the West.
Each song is based on a different traditional raga, which DJ Cheb takes as a guide in adding his diverse textures and tempos. The transitions between tracks are as intriguing as the songs themselves, as DJ Cheb interweaves pieces of vocal reflection, falling water, and barking dogs as the enchanting ragas and compelling drum and electronic beats kick in.
For those who want to move while listening, "Shri Durga"'s "River of Mercury" is the closest to a dance track. For most of the songs, I suggest setting aside some quiet time and allowing "Shri Durga" to guide you on a great spiritual journey.