Tuesday, 30 July 2013

4 star Review of Agam by Stuart Masters & Rishi Ranjan in Songlines issue 94

Stuart Masters & Rishi Ranjan - Agam

Anglo-Indian guitar and sarod duo with hidden depths.

This is an enjoyable, if not shatteringly novel, collaboration between a couple of musicians who met by chance in a West London bookshop. Rishi Ranjan is a classically trained Indian sarod player , while Stuart Masters is a guitarist who has a folk and Western classical background but also knows his way round Indian and Arabic modes. The result is a relaxed disc that sounds like a superior home recording, which finds a very nice balance between more serious moody atmospherics and the playfully expressive. 'Serenity' is, as it sounds, a beautifully tranquil and expressive piece, while the title-track has considerable forward momentum and shows the duo trading some tricky melodic licks backed by a guest table player.
Other tracks on this instrumental album reach for a more spiritual and mysterious atmosphere, such as 'It's Rising' and Midday'. Only rarely, as in 'Gaur Sarang' does the album veer a little too close to what sounds like an academic exercise in exchanging scales. Mostly it is confidently well played and just virtuosic enough to avoid falling into the show-off ego-trip trap that fusion albums fronted by star players are often prey to. The overall impression is rather of a friendly, civilised musical conversation across genres , a dialogue that allows each musician enough space to have their respective say. Overall, this is a warm, vibrant and refreshingly unpretentious disc; while it might not break that much new ground it will considerably brighten a gloomy day.

Peter Culshaw

All The Way Home by Navacross - review in Blues Matters magazine by Adrian Blacklee

Navacross - All the Way Home
Hi4Head Records

Essex based band Navacross have been together for several years, undertaking plenty of touring in the South East of England during which time they have started to be noticed. This, their second album. is a very strong release and enhances their growing reputation further. The band have versatility in abundance and deliver an eclectic mix of Blues and Country rock sounds, all the material is original and there are some well constructed songs here that allow the band's vocalist Dean Baker to demonstrate his full vocal range, which at times is reminiscent of a young Van Morrison; pick of the bunch is Steer which is interspersed with some cracking lead guitar work. The album has a nice feel to it with fine musicianship and intelligent song writing, the lead guitar work sits comfortably with acoustic segments and while the band on this album did not include a full time bassist, guest John Culleton does a fine job on the double bass. Definitely one to watch for 2013.

Adrian Blacklee