Album no. 103/1001
Strap yourselves in for some serious zen – Call of the Valley is one of India’s greatest classical albums.
Of course there’s a lot of sitar – that goes without saying – but there’s also flutes and guitars and a traditional Indian instrument called a Santoor. Old mate Shivkumar was somewhat of an expert of the santoor, and this album shows off his musical chops. (But not chops because he was probably vegetarian).
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: Oh I am so not looking forward to this. Everybody knows the worst thing about Sgt Pepper is the sitar – I hardly think an entire album of it will make me change my mind. Can I just skip this one?
NK: I have not. When we did the Sgt Peppers, I said that I was more interested in hearing the traditional Indian stuff rather than western knock-offs, so I am going in with an open mind.
CL: IT’S AN HOUR AND EIGHT MINUTES!!!
NK: Open mind.
CL: OH NO.
NK: It’s not bad!
CL: Yes it is.
NK: I like the opener, ‘Ahir Bhairav/Nat Bhairav’ (I tried running that through google translate, but it just said ‘Nuts Bhairav’, so I still have no idea what it means). It’s long, but it builds up as it goes. Starts out all relaxed and dreamy, but by the end it’s really picked up. I quite liked the whole thing.
CL: I didn’t like any of this. I cannot name a standout track. Soz. (Not soz).
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: Look. I was already in a bad mood before I went into this. I’d just spent a solid hour and a half futzing about with my computer because it was playing up, and I didn’t need old mate Shiv twanging it up in his corner. This album did not make me think of a peaceful, quiet valley. Rather, a valley I’d like to throw my computer and every sitar in the world into.
NK: I think you need to be ready to relax for this one. I really liked it, and when I listened to it I had just gotten home from work and was having a little sit-down. I reckon that’s ideal.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: I’m going to be honest. Some parts sound a lot like someone just trying to tune their guitar.
NK: I guess we’re bringing a bit of eastern music into the mainstream, at least a bit. This might be a nice entry level point to give the sitars a bit more of a go.
Will you be listening again?
CL: No. This was everything I expected. And less. But there’s still another album from our friend Ravi Shankar to come, so it’s basically like I’ll be listening again. Jeez.
NK: Maybe! It’s pretty long, and I think you need to be in the right mood, but I enjoyed it!
Listen to Call of the Valley on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.