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Jonas Hellborg: Kali’s Son

Bassist Jonas Hellborg has worked with Indian percussionist Selvaganesh on a number of albums that draw equally on Indian classical music, rock and jazz. On Kali’s Son, they are joined by Niladri Kumar, who plays the sitar and the zitar, a five-string version of that instrument that he invented. Thanks to the miracle of modern audio technology, both Hellborg and Kumar are plugged in and amplified (and sometimes overdubbed), while the kanjeera that Selvaganesh slaps around on this album has plenty of volume as well. Yet they get their rock on by taking jazz-style solos, and over extremely tricky rhythms to boot.

Keep listening after the title track, the first and weakest on the album, which obsessively returns to a hellaciously complex hook that has no obvious connection to the rest of the music. “War Games” and “Plastic Puja” both find Kumar merrily shredding over imaginative accompaniment, while in “Kali Ghat” Hellborg applies extreme twists and turns to a catchy countermelody, always just shy of going out of control. Selvaganesh gets to shine on “Brightness,” in which he lays down impressive flurries of beats as Kumar and Hellborg run wild. And they show they can slow it down as well with the hypnotic “Shri Shri Vikkuji.”

Originally Published