Magic Carpet – Magic Carpet (1972)

folder cópiaThe emotion provided by Raga (classical India music) is not only effective, it’s a real message, an aesthetic of nature, of the divine, a virtue able to guide the listener to a state of emotional trance. In the ’60s, with the launch of the international success of raga, masters such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan, leaded European and American artists to become more and more captivated by the dynamical relation between mystical emotion, spirituality, and music. The emergence of Raga schools from everywhere (still perpetuating the ancestral musical traditions), and initiatory travels of Western minimalist-modern jazz composers (Terry Riley, Don Cherry) to India, founded a growing interest for this (transcendental) musical universe.

George Harrison & Ravi Shankar
George Harrison & Ravi Shankar

The emphasis on circular rhythms, ornamentation (gamaka), the use of acoustic stringed patterns, the sense of beatific endurance and lengthy improvisation are the central characteristics of this music in term of practice and sound aestheticism. Emotionally, the function on the listener is hypnotic, voluntary trying to reach him into a higher state of consciousness, modulating his perception of time and space. (!)

The basic conception of drone (continuous sound form) will be taken back in popular music and turned into kosmische electronica (70’s Berlin underground). After Seventh Sons’ first original but rather discreet effort simply called Raga (1964) and Malachi’s Holy Music (1967), famous bands such as The Beatles in Revolver (1966) and Traffic in their album Mr. Fantasy (1967) were seduced by the sonorities of Indian raga music, they also occasionally incorporate sitar elements to their music.

Raga Megha, Kailash Raj
Raga Megha, Kailash Raj

Let’s go to our artist:

Way back in the early ’70s in London, three friends came together to play some unusual music: Sitarist Clem Alford, guitarist Jim Moyes, and tabla player Keshav Sathe, formed a unique Anglo-Indian fusion, calling themselves Sargam (the name of a note in an Indian scale). They made one album under the name Sagram, misspelled by the Windmill recording company and inappropriately entitled Pop Explosion Sitar Style. This album was released without the band’s permission, with a ludicrous cover photograph bearing no relation to any band members or anything about them. (!)

In 1971, soon after the release of Sagram, the Sargam trio was offered another Lp recording contract by Mushroom Records, with the proviso that they find a singer. Having met her when they were both at Chelsea School of Art, Jim Moyes contacted Alisha Sufit. She busked in street markets, singing and playing at the London Underground by day, and did gigs around the clubs and colleges at night.

Cheesy Cover!
Cheesy Cover!

Jim Moyes invited her to play and the four musicians soon renamed themselves Magic Carpet, forming a unique Anglo-Indian musical collaboration, facilitated by the fact that Alisha was writing songs set in open modal tunings on the guitar making them instantly compatible with the tuning of the sitar. The band recorded the Magic Carpet album in the winter of 1971/1972 on Mushroom Records label.

The four stayed together for nearly a year, doing a few prestigious gigs, at the 100 Club in London, Wavendon (Cleo Laine, John Dankworth’s venue), several festivals, Sounds of the Seventies on BBC Radio, but they finally parted company in 1972.

Magic Carpet
Magic Carpet

After a considerable gap, the four met up again. Jim was no longer performing and Keshav had retired, but Clem and Alisha were still playing professionally and it was a natural step to do another album, in 1996 they recorded the album Once Moor (subtitle Magic Carpet II) released on the Magic Carpet Records label. It consists of songs written/sung by Alisha, plus some instrumental tracks, with Clem Alford on sitar/tamboura, Alisha on guitar, and Pandit Dinesh and Esmail Sheikh on tabla.

Let’s go to our album:

Originally published in 1972 for Magic Carpet records, the Lp shows a dynamic mixture of original folk inventions, psych-Hindu sitar gems and gorgeous, omnipresent, accentuated female vocals by Alisha. Lyrically all the album is about east mysticism, love, spirituality, time of Creation and such. The music itself is poetic, combining simplistic folk guitar motifs to raga scales, in spiritual Hindu-folk experience, with soft psychedelic flavor floating all along with the album!

Alisha Sufit
Alisha Sufit

There’s a fantastic interview with Alisha Sufit with long details about them made by our friends from It’s Psychedelic Baby, with a track by track comments, and more!

The ‘IM’ highlights are: Father Time and Take Away Kesh.

बॉन यात्रा!

Tracks Include:

A1 The Magic Carpet (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A2 The Phoenix (Alisha)

A3 Black Cat (Alisha)

A4 Alan’s Christmas Card (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

A5 Harvest Song (Alisha)

A6 Do You Hear The Words (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B1 Father Time (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B2 La La (Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B3 Peace Song (Alisha)

B4 Take Away Kesh (Alisha, Alford, Moyes, Sathe)

B5 High Street (Alisha)

B6 The Dream (Alisha)

Credits

  • Electric Guitar: Jim Moyes
  • Sitar, Esraj, Tambura: Clem Alford
  • Tabla, Percussion: Keshav Sathe
  • Vocals, Acoustic Guitar: Alisha
  • Design (Cover Design)Alisha
  • Photography: Gabriel Weissman
  • Producer, Engineer: Vic Keary

Magic Carpet Records ‎– MC 1001 LP

Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine
Fantastic (Pulp) Magazine

People – Ceremony ~ Buddha Meet Rock (1971)

cover

Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha (the awakened one). The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.

He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering (dukkha) through the elimination of ignorance (avidyā) by way of understanding and the seeing of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) and the elimination of desire (taṇhā), and thus the attainment of the cessation of all suffering, known as the sublime state of Nirvāṇa!

Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha

Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada has a widespread following in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar). Mahayana is found throughout East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan) and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, and Tiantai. In some classifications, Vajrayana, practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia (also China and Russia) is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.

Let’s go to our history:

About 85 million people in Japan, accounting for 2/3 of the population, are affiliated with Buddhism in some way, often nominally 70-85% of Japanese profess no religious membership or personal religion. Most Japanese Buddhists are also similarly affiliated with Shinto, as neither of the two religions demands exclusivity.

Zen Buddhism was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE. It was called Ch’an in China. Zen’s golden age began with the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-Neng (638-713), and ended with the persecution of Buddhism in China in the middle of the 9th century CE. The great Zen masters came from this period.

Daruma
Daruma

Zen spread to Korea in the 7th century CE and to Japan in the 12th century CE. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language. Its techniques are compatible with other faiths and are often used, for example, by Christians seeking a mystical understanding of their faith. Zen often seems paradoxical, it requires an intense discipline which, when practiced properly, results in total spontaneity and ultimate freedom. This natural spontaneity should not be confused with impulsiveness.

Buddhism’s emphasis on the Middle way not only provides a unique guideline for ethics but has also allowed Buddhism to peacefully coexist with differing beliefs, customs, and institutions in countries where it has resided throughout its history.

Laotian Monks
Laotian Monks

Also, its moral and spiritual parallels with other systems of thought, for example, with various tenets of Christianity have been subjects of close study. In addition, the Buddhist concept of dependent origination has been compared to modern scientific thought, as well as Western metaphysics. (!)

Popularised in the West by the Japanese scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870 – 1966), Zen culture is the Japanese variant of Chán, a school of Mahayana which strongly emphasizes dhyana (concentration/meditation). This gives insight into one’s true nature, which opens the way to a liberated way of living.

Byōdō-in
Byōdō-in

In Zen Buddhism, an ensō (円,相) is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). It is characterized by a minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics.

The many different schools, such as the Zen Buddhist concepts, practices, and traditions will be left to an expert. This is just a small introduction to the subject, our today’s album has an exploitative side, but it’s the basis for one of the rare fusions between rock and religion, especially in the East!

Ensō
Ensō

Let’s go to our album:

People were formed during a short term in 1971 as a (nearly) occasional shooting star project to produce a novel by blending their rock sounds and Buddhist Shomyo (sutra). The album was led by Buddhist poet/songwriter Naoki Tachikawa and was organized by Teichiku Records‘ A&R director Hideki Sakamoto.

All the members were renowned and talented Japanese session musicians: Kimio Mizutani (Masahiko Satoh & Soundbrakers, Love Live Life), Yusuke Hogushi (Sound Ltd.), Hideaki Takebe (Yosui Inoue), Kiyoshi Tanaka (Zuno Keisato), and Rally Sunaga (Hiroshi Yasukawa). They released a solemn and mysterious rock Lp, an album with a vision which slowly unfolds in a zen way.

Kimio Mizutani
Kimio Mizutani

Through most of the album is a mood of improvisation build around some fundaments of Buddhist prayers with a psych-rock band playing a mostly droning. With clear organ, slowly rhythmic bass, wooden block, wah-wah guitar, drums, and acoustic guitar, temple cymbals, and an occasional sitar played in Japanese mode.

Curiously, the album starts and ends with a sample from David Axelrod’s Holy Thursday, being one of the first unauthorized uses of a song in rock history. The ‘IM’ highlights are for the entire album, this rite soundtrack captures the beauty of an ancient religion with tinges of modernity, fake orgasms and lots of fuzz. 良い旅を!

Tracks Include:

A1 プロローグ (Prologue)

A2 声明 Part 1 (Shōmyō Part 1)

A3 讃歌 (Sanka) [Gatha]

B1 切散華 (Kirisange) [Flower Strewing]

B2 声明 Part 2 (Shōmyō Part 2)

B3 祈り Part 1 (Inori Part 1)

B4 祈り Part 2 (Inori Part 2)

B5 エピローグ (Epilogue)

Credits

  • Bass: Hideaki Takebe
  • Drums, Percussion: Kiyoshi Tanaka
  • Electric Guitar, Guitar (Slide), Acoustic Guitar, Sitar: Kimio Mizutani
  • Organ, Guitar, Vocals: Yusuke Hoguchi
  • Percussion, Gong: Larry Sunaga
  • Vocals: Akemi Tomura, Goro Inoue, Kyo Shibata, Maiya Sugihara
  • All songs by Naoki Tachikawa and Yusuke Hogushi
  • Arranged by: Yusuke Hoguchi
  • Engineer: Tatuo Kawabe
  • Producer: Naoki Tachikawa

Recorded at: Teichiku Suginami Studios, Tokyo

Original 1971 Lp on Teichicku Records

Tokyo Glance
Tokyo Glance