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Miss Melody 6:59 Follow Your Steps 5:24 Time Must Change 6:22 Ganga 8:31 The End of the Way 9:24
All compositions by Subramaniam.
Line-up: L. Subramaniam - violins; K. Shekar - tavil*; Ramnad V. Raghavan - mohorsing*; Granesan N - tamboura*; Shrinivasan - mrindagam*; Rangachari - kanjira*; Dutt Rreel - connacall*; Mark Massey - keyboards; Jorge Strunz - guitars; Ron Wagner - drums; Alex Rostotsky - bass guitar; Boris Kurganov - saxophones; Yuri Genbachev - percussion; Mark Pekarsky - drums; Nikolay Levinovsky - keyboards; Taras Snider - synthesizers; Rinat Shaimukhametov - guitars; (* - Indian folk instruments)
Surely the name of this remarkable master of true and essential Progressive Jazz-Fusion Lakshminarayana Subramaniam is familiar to many Prog-lovers, including Russians, thanks to whole 3 LPs of his released by "Melodiya" in the late 1980's. As for me, I've heard several other works by this giant of the genre. In the early 1990's small batches of original foreign LPs of absolutely varied music were often brought to a place called "Gorbushka" in Moscow and they were bought right away by the habitues of the then immense Music Lovers' Club, that was yet to become the country-wide cultural centre. So you had to pay too much. Like if an original LP's price was $ 4-6 all first-hand buyers had to at least pay twice as much (Patricia Kaas's discs, that didn't concern me, went at a top price of $10). Subramaniam's album ranged from $6 to 8, which I felt happy about (though this "feast of life" on "Gorbushka" - a real Mecca for the CIS music aficionados - continued for only a year and a half). After the USSR collapsed great quantities of mediocre pop art samples of music, video and literature flooded freely the country (CIS), successfully filling radio and TV. In fact, all this garbage of mass music, literature and movies of lower quality (mostly American, as English cinema was never too bad) filled naturally rich Russian brain. Besides, rock music became more accessible as well. But then I wouldn't stop repeating that Soviet Ministry of Culture had really clever and educated people, since it's clear now that at least 90 percent of information from abroad they let us get hold of was for the most part really the best things. I could prolong the topic but it wouldn't be in favour of present officials, who instead of giving the nation the best examples of culture, just fill their pockets while corrupting our unique nation with primitive stuff. It's quite time we returned to real Art. So, as I said, I've listened to enough of Subramaniam's, including his early works of the late 70's and early 80's with no more than just good "Blossom" as the peak of this super-Hindu career. His return to traditional Indian music in the 1990's - drawing not too positive associations with the "Narada" label - I wouldn't bother for that. I can assure that two of Subramaniam's "Melodiya" releases are among the best works he ever created. In my view, his only pure masterpiece is "Conversations", made together with European violin genius Stephan Grapelli. Another magnificent one is "Time Must Be Changed" which, in fact conditionally, is a half star behind (and only in my point of view) because of a lesser passion and speed as compared to "Conversations". Nevertheless "Time Must Be Changed", recorded in Moscow with guest appearance of our best, internationally acclaimed musicians is the second best album in the violinist's discography. But if we rate it in terms of the genre then this one is a masterpiece. And keep in mind, music on "Time Must Be Changed" is not Jazz Fusion: this is a wonderful, unique mixture of Jazz-Rock, Indian Raga and Symphonic Art-Rock, with the latter brought a bit more to the foreground than the others. This in particular means that Indian Raga is ruled by the same melodic and harmonic sonata laws of European classical music as good old Classical Art-Rock. (Art Rock is Art-of-Rock and I don't care for specialists who once and for all confused everything and use the term just to identify some glam-rock!). Well, speaking of the album, I don't see Lady Improvisation anywhere except for a pair of humorous recitative passages while the percussionist repeats the themes (but see late Deep Purple concerts where maestro Lord and witty Steve Morse do a sort of dueling of solo improvisation!). The "Miss Melody" composition is, of course, the most mellow, calm and full of melody and an appropriate track to its obliging and even effeminate title. The rest of the pieces are filled (like we reviewers love to say) with every "progressive ingredient needed". Needed to seize the listener's attention, who is fond of Progressive music with real savour and wizard arrangements, frequent tempo and mood changes and other details of "the musical action". For all that rather sober complexity of the album, music is superbly charming (really a rare Classical, not neo-progressive release can boast such a variety of tasty and generally acceptable melodies including, first of all, of a purely Eastern "spicy" kind). So, if "Time Must Be Changed" is touted as a Progressive masterpiece (no matter what genre or a blend of them) by experts, why shouldn't followers of Neo-forms love it equally, even after 3-4 sessions? Notice that in my reviews I intentionally speak for myself and never use the "we think" terms. Like one of my favourite Russian writers Victor Konetzky said that it's not modesty that stands behind all those "we think" things uttered by one person but a fear of personal responsibility. So those who accuse me of being "unnecessary subjective" should read "modest" authors. They won't thrust their opinion on you, on the contrary, they'll praise musicians according to their hit parade places and honours received, nominations, etc. So, ladies and gentlemen who subscribed to this newsletter and still thinking I "suffer (?!) from unnecessary subjectivism", please know you've subscribed to the wrong e-magazine. Devoid of any cliches, real Progressive music can hardly be your field. However such rare and unique albums as Subramaniam's "Time Must Be Changed" manage to unite different Prog-lovers like "Adepts of Complex Forms and Surprises" and "Supporters of Melody and Expectancy" in full harmony and mutual consent on Our Genre.
VM. January 25, 2001
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