RAKSHASA  album    REVIEWS

UK  LIVE   REVIEWS

Liverpool International Jazz Festival

"Simon Thacker’s Svara Kanti is about realising the impossible and making it stand out in such a way that you cannot help but hold your breath"

Full review here

 

Darlington and Stockton Times

“Awesome, complex and breathtaking. These were just some of the words used to describe Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti." Full review here

 

Bachtrack.com

"I sensed from the musical communication between the very impressive individuals involved that they know they are onto something special. I expect great things in the future."  Full review here.

 
The Scotsman
"Contemporary classical sensibility, heated flurries of flamenco, cosmic deliberations from ancient Vedic texts and a hastily admitted youthful infatuation with heavy metal… you get it all with the powerful East-West fusion ensemble led by eclectically-minded Scots classical guitarist Simon Thacker." Full review here.
 
Ross-Shire Journal
"This was a truly unforgettable evening... new beautiful and thought provoking music."  Full review here.
 
United World Radio

"It seemed that Thacker has powerful ideas of what he wants his music to be and, after a number of years of studying and experimenting in his field, now has the musical expertise to realise them."  Full review here.

 
Roots of the World
"This was an evening of great variety musically but also of varying feeling and energy levels. The whole effect for me of this musical cocktail was one of energy, calm, and emotional release as I felt myself taken on a sensory and emotional journey."  Full review here.
 
Glasgow Herald 
"Thacker's Multani ... used an unusual metre and some highly technical musicianship to much more gripping effect"  Full review here.
 
Eastern Eye live preview here.
 
Asian Express live preview here.
 
University of Aberdeen concert review here.

 

Peerie Willie Guitar Festival Shetland review here.

Svara-Kanti   reviews   and   features

The World Music Report (Canada) 

"Not only is Mr. Thacker a sublime technician but his artistry seems to soar above that of most mere mortals. His ability to extract such meaning and expression from merely six nylon strings speaks of true genius... a brilliant musical odyssey that will resonate for years to come". Full review here.
 
All About Jazz (USA)
"a formidable quartet exploration of Asian and Western sounds that bends the traditions as much as it does one's preconceptions....Rakshasa is a delight from start to finish. Thacker has crafted a work—an obvious labor of love—that would grace any concert hall or World Music festival. In short, a contemporary classic." Full review here
 
Classical.net (USA)
"Exploring classical traditions from all of India and then meshing with Western sound might sound like a misstep. It's genius...Nothing bores. Nothing stalls. Each selection highlights the instruments in a different way, testing the limitations and understandings of each voice and creating something unique. It's not classical music, or world music. This is classical music for the world." Full review here
 
Elsewhere (New Zealand) 
"It is expansive, inclusive and thrillingly inventive, often unpredictable music which is grounded in many traditions (notably Indian folk) and -- hold your breath -- the title track at the end is a tour de force of backward/forward guitar sonics (over tabla, Tibetan singing bowls and waterphone) which is a real headphones trip. At six and a half minutes it is like a mini-raga inverted in from Mars." Full review here.
 
Roger Williams on "A World of Difference" radio show, announcing Rakshasa as his "best album of 2013"
"One of the most stunning albums I've heard in a very long time."
 
Critical Jazz (USA) 
"Simon Thacker pulls off the impossible by creating a unique hybrid unto itself, Indian music composed with classical structure and with the improvisational depth found in traditional western jazz." Full review here.
 
FRoots Magazine
"Just when you think you have Rakshasa sussed despite it continually springing surprises, it reveals the cunning trap that is Thacker's solo track Rakshasa. For music, for packaging...and for inspirations, Rakshasa is one of my albums of 2013." Full review here
 
Jazz Journal
"Unsettlingly unfamiliar octatonic blues runs add strange vibes to Svanranjali, while Thacker's breathless title track is a scintillating mashup of Hendrix-like backwards guitar and rhythmic devilry. A captivating collection for the enquiring ear." Full review here
 
Jazz and Beyond (Australia)
"The quartet often finds itself in modes of burning vibrant unison attacks giving way to sunny, sublime new found-lands
Thacker’s musicianship is such that inventive improvisation is not so much an intention but a natural consequence and the music may move through notation into spirited freedom."  
Full review here (scroll down)
 
The Musician
"A cultural landmark recording...a must buy for anyone captivated by the crossover between Eastern and Western styles"
Full review here
 
FabricationsHQ
"Rakshasa creates musical sound-scapes that range from the accessible and comfortable to the complex and challenging; it is an album rich in musical vibrancy and colour... It’s also an exceptional piece of work – in any culture." Full review here
 

FabricationsHQ (best of 2013 review)

"the most outstanding and original work of the year " (full review here)

 

instrumentali.com

"This is music that fully transcends genre because it traces the migrations of Indo-European ideas and traditions, not along earthly roads but through multiple dimensions." Full review here. 

 

Instrumentali.com (best of 2013 awards)

"absorbed its influences via inspirational transference and created a shockingly new life form." Full awards here

 

The Australian

"Rakshasa strikes an exquisite balance between traditional Indian music and modern composition while exploring the former's relationship with other genres...A wide-ranging program, burnished by bravura playing, is bookended with instrumentals composed by the leader that genuflect to past pathfinders." Full review here

 

Rainlore's World 

"There is nothing to fault on this brilliant, monumental album. Rakshasa is above all a work of exquisite beauty. Its charm is irresistible and should cast its spell on not only the contemporary classical music connoisseur but also the more serious 'world music' aficionado. This is an album to just fall in love with, and a must have." Full review here. 

 

Touching Extremes (Italy)
"For our good luck, there are still musicians who absorb hundreds of influences and synthesize them into substances that transmit, for lack of a better word, peace. Such is the case of left-handed guitarist Simon Thacker...Music that sounds honestly melodic, intelligibly involved, rhythmically ambitious but, at the same time, effortlessly assimilable." Full review here.
 
Jazzwise 
"Rakshasa has an extraordinary authority and musical surefootedness to it...No matter what comes after it, Rakshasa will remain one of the essential albums of 2013."  Full review here.
 
Pulse Magazine
"The fiery and mystical opening Dhumaketu is certainly one of the defining pieces of the ensemble.Twists and turns of lightning guitar phrases build into crescendos that fall into slower, rumbling riffs...One is sure to enjoy the dazzling display of sounds and myriad of movements that Svara-Kanti's 'sound world' has to offer. Full feature here
 
Daily Record

“Edinburgh’s Simon Thacker is a classical guitarist but, like George Harrison, he has seen how intertwining two styles can actually work. By blending them, he has created something highly listenable but very different. The styles don’t jar-they emote. Turn this on, tune in and be transported.” Full review here.

 

ATTN: Magazine

"Thacker’s creative drive is borderless, fusing a great respect and fascination for cultural origin with the acknowledgement that even deeply embedded musical values can be uprooted from their geographical source and rethreaded through an elsewhere." Full review here

 

NE:MM Magazine

"Simon's title work "Rakshasa" has other worldy, surreal sounds as the guitar and tabla work their way through an ominous musical morass." Full review here

 

Planet Hugill

"Each piece takes different elements from Western and Indian classical musics and combines them in different ways... stunning solo and ensemble contributions. The four performers clearly developed a strong feeling for their material and the way they collaborated." Full review here.

 

Jazz Views 
"It is evident from Thacker’s generously detailed sleeve notes that his project is informed by a high degree of musical and philosophical scholarship but one doesn’t have to have academic leanings to enjoy the staggering display  of virtuosity on offer, still less the passionate interpretations" Full review here (scroll down).
 

Jazz Views (best albums of 2013 awards)

"world music influences enrich the musical palette and call forth incredible feats of virtuosity" (full list here)
 
The Scotsman

"It is perhaps an indication of Thacker’s stature as a musician that he can commission from the likes of Terry Riley, patriarch of American minimalism, who wrote the 14-minute SwarAmant...Thacker’s own compositions here – including Multani for guitar, violin and tabla, which he premiered at last year’s Glasgow Jazz festival – reflect his own far-ranging musical journey: witness the echoes of flamenco that emerge in pieces such as the opening Dhumaketu...Thacker’s progress seems one of unstoppably forward motion." Full review/feature here.

 

Musical Pointers

"A thrilling CD which develops innovations enjoyed in these musicians' first CD and offers a generous 73 mins of exciting music. Simon Thacker is a restless innovator, and this great compendium ends with an enthralling piece which incorporates "reverse recording" of his guitar with notes, instead of decaying, crescendoing to demoniacal effect. The presentation is colourful and exciting too, and this is likely to become one of our recordings of the year." Full review here.

 

The Arts Desk

"Thacker's Multani sustains its fiendish 15/16 rhythm with unerring ease, and his reimaginings of Punjabi folksongs are beautifully done, Kaur's vocals adding extra authenticity. Thacker's exuberant Rakshasa closes the disc, its fancy production tricks never sounding gimmicky." Full review here

 
Eastern Eye 
"One of the most original albums of the year...the brainchild of the master musician and renowned composer...one of the most talented musicians in the UK". Interview/feature here.
 

The Scotsman

"The line-up of Simon Thacker’s group Svara-Kanti – violin, voice, tabla and Thacker on guitar – is enough to suggest that its debut album, Rakshasa, blends Indian musical elements with western ones.
But the influences imbued in these world premiere recordings of Thacker’s own rhythmically exciting Dhumaketu, Nigel Osborne’s stratospherically beguiling The Five Elements (featuring the soft vocal allure of Japjit Kaur), and Terry Riley’s strangely fragmented SwarAmant, embrace sources as distant as Flamenco and Indonesia. Supreme performances, teaming with energy, especially from Thacker himself." 

Full review here (scroll down).

 

The Herald  

"Thacker has the passion to justify every note. This is unmistakeably the product of people at the very top of their profession." Full review here.

 

Eastern Eye 
"a hauntingly atmospheric world music album that combines Indian and western musical cultures."  
Full review here.
 
Monsieur Délire (Canada) 
 "A beautiful production, musically and visually...Thacker pens several compositions, including the excellent title piece...Natural-sounding genre-crossing music."  Full review here
 
International Record Review
"An honourable mention for Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti, an impressive quartet of guitar,violin, voice and tabla which on Rakshasa knits Indian music and a range of European and American traditions into a remarkably cohesive whole. Thacker and his associates have a genuine feel for fundamental musical commonality and the new directions that can arise arise from it, with results that could easily belong both in the concert hall and on a WOMAD stage"
 
Asiana (album of the month) 
"Rakshasa sets a benchmark, it’s a stunning composition of Indian and western sounds, 73 minutes of musical expertise" Full review here.
 
Guitarist Magazine
"A complex fusion of Western classical guitar and Indian musical traditions. Hypnotic" 
 
Sequenza 21 (USA) 
"If I could point to a single track that represents the core of the music, I would choose Thacker’s composition Svaranjali. The scales and rhythms used throughout this propulsive work are right on the edge of traditional ragas and something you might find on a Bela Fleck album." Full review here.
 
NADA BRAHMA  
“Their combined efforts result in 14 magnificent tracks (73 minutes) of world premieres that push the boundaries of inter-cultural sounds.”  Full review here.
 
Roots of the World 
"This album is a compelling and exhilarating meeting of musical styles, cultures, traditions, and moods."
Full review here.
 
East Lothian Courier
"A classical guitarist has chartered "unprecedented" territory in a new album which combines Indian and western music by some of the world's best composers" Full review here.
 
Songlines Magazine
"Guitarist Simon Thacker has assembled a team of first rate musicians including the brilliant violinist Jacqueline Shave from the Britten Sinfonia, the singer Japjit Kaur and the masterful tabla player Sarvar Sabri. Thacker's lively compositions are interestingly constructed and full of precision and drive. He has roped in some impressive additional compositional firepower, tackling pieces by the likes of British composer Nigel Osborne and systems music guru Terry Riley. There is more than enough going on sonically, with spacey noises in Osborne's "The Five Elements" and Thacker's backwards guitar techniques."
 
Desi Spy
"effortlessly redefining the limits of Indian/Western collaboration"  Full review here.
 
Asian Express Newspaper feature here.
 
East Lothian News feature here.
 
Elsewhere (New Zealand)  
"Scotland's Simon Thacker is one of Elsewhere's kinda people. He plays classical guitar but has his ears wide open to the world..."  interview here.
 
Music Street Journal
"Epic in terms of quantity,,,,a powerhouse that combines world music and classical in a smoking hot instrumental jam...There are more powered up moments and mellower ones. As one might imagine... it’s got considerable scope, too."
 
New Classics

"Rakshasa features the ensemble’s work with some of the most distinctive compositional voices of today to create one of the most successful, wide ranging and ambitious intercultural programmes ever assembled."

Full review here. 

 

PopMatters (USA)

"India is nothing but intense, and this is reflected here in... the tripped-out weirdness of Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti’s “Rakshasa”, guaranteed to make your head spin faster than Anil Kumble’s cricket ball hurtling towards a well-run crease."

Full review here (Rough Guide to Psychedelic India compilation)

The Hindu, Coimbatore

"From Gaelic lore to lines from Lalan Fakir, Simon Thacker’s Svara Kanti stirred up a maelstrom of music, drawing from both Western and Indian Classical music with generous helpings of folk...

Audience member, Parthasarathy...was full of admiration for Simon Thacker, whose Western Classical upbringing must be so different from Indian music sensibilities. “For him to have studied our music, understood it and then reinterpreted it, is amazing,” he said."  Full review here

 

The Hindu, Kochi

"Simon Thacker’s musical experiments are joyously unconventional. When the cello, the tabla and the classical guitar merge with Baul and folk singing, the resulting music resonates well beyond the performance space....Unlike fusing several genres, what Thacker and his team have done is create their own musical tradition." Full review here

 

Live  reviews  in  India