This is one of those delightful albums that draws on sounds and ideas from around the world and weaves them together into a seamless whole.  You’ll hear melodies inspired by music from the Middle East, India, American rock and Latino grooves, African sounds and textures, and even a few Celtic influences. Kulkarni integrates instruments from around the world and from historic sources, too. Space and time get a good workout on this album!

The album was engineered in Valencia Spain at the Berklee College of Music’s international upper-graduate campus’s state of the art facility. Kulkarni plays boards and ethnic hand drums, and incorporates the talents of numerous guest musicians and a few dozen more instruments.

The tracks on Listen are carefully and purposefully structured. There are four brief improvisational interludes that introduce unusual or unfamiliar instruments used in subsequent compositions: Track 3: Listen: Mbira; Track 6: Listen: Oud; Track 10: Listen Erhu; and Track 12: Listen: The Orbo. Each of these taste-testing tracks are followed by songs that fully incorporate those instruments into more thoroughly developed compositions. I was especially impressed by Track 7: Speak to Me, which features the Oud introduced in Track 6. The instrumental combinations heighten the warmth and range of the instrument and place it in a highly digestible context for Western listeners. The percussion performance of Track 9: Sense of Touch is marvelous.

When somebody says “listen!” people pause and take it in, and maybe try to understand and comprehend what is said. That’s exactly the point of this album. The songs flow smoothly in a coordinated and intuitive way so a person may not even realize that they’re learning while they’re listening.

The manner in which the world instruments are integrated into the compositional “discussion” makes them very accessible to the listener. The album actually improves with repeated listening! Since the music is so thoughtful, it has a sneaky way of inspiring brilliant ideas. This is the album for getting past writer’s block, for opening up to new concepts and ways of seeing things. Because Kulkarni makes every effort to integrate things from around the world, this is a good album to use for ceremonies that emphasize inclusiveness and relating to our Mother Earth as a whole.


~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: Nitish Kulkarni
14 tracks, 40 minutes
mp3 - $9.49