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World Music CD Reviews North American


By Ben Frandzel
Published February 17, 2006

Mondo Rama

San Francisco Bay Area vocalist Jai Uttal, who has forged a place for himself as a genre-mixer with a strong base in Indian classical vocal traditions, continues his multifaceted approach on his newest release. Backed by the stellar musicianship of the Pagan Love Orchestra, Uttal is most intriguing when he explores most deeply, as he throws bossa nova, Hebrew cantillation, sampling and DJ aesthetics, and plain old rock into the mix with a striking effect. There’s also a terrific cover of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” with praises to Lord Shiva sung in Sanskrit, Uttal’s homage to one of the earliest conflagrations of Indian and Western pop musics. Uttal is clearly someone who loves all kinds of music and can bring them together capably. Occasionally this collection veers into a simpler, rock-informed style that pales next to Uttal’s more extravagant creations, but otherwise this makes for deeply compelling listening.