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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

Various Artists

By John Kuhlman
Published March 13, 2007

Devotion—Religious Chants From India
ARC Music 1986


This is actually a sampler album put out by the folks at ARC Music, disguised somewhat disconcertingly as a primer on the different religious groups native to the Indian sub-continent. Choosing 10 titles from their apparently vast holdings of world music, each piece is supposedly representative of one of six different faiths, including Hinduism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism and Baulism. Roughly divided between the raw and the cooked, half of the tracks are ecstatic vocal pieces with minimal musical accompaniment, such as the soulful, yearning love song to God performed by Shafqat Ali Khan, the devotional Baul piece by Narottam Fakir and the Sikh praise singing of the Sing Badhu, while many of the rest are highly overproduced arrangements for multiple voices and instruments (check out the incredible orchestral flourishes on the first track) that are so strange and lush they give off a faint, not totally disagreeable odor of cheese.