Jonas Hellborg (Bass)
Shawn Lane (Guitar)
V. Selvaganesh (Kanjeera, Konakkol)
V. Umamahesh (Vocals)
V. Umashankar (Ghatam, Konakkol)

Bassist Jonas Hellborg doesn’t have quite the visibility or reputation of fellow bassists Bill Laswell or Jah Wobble, but on this CD he displays an equal (if not superior) facility for musical synthesis — along with absolutely monster chops that elevate him far above either Laswell or Wobble and place him much closer in jaw-dropping technique to the legendary Jaco Pastorious. The most impressive aspect of this recording, however, is not Hellborg’s technique, or that of his long-term collaborator, guitarist Shawn Lane, but the integration of the two players into a relatively pure East Indian frame of reference. It should come as no surprise that Hellborg was once part of John McLaughlin’s reincarnated Mahavishnu Orchestra, but Hellborg goes further than McLaughlin, and much further than Laswell’s one-size-fits-all ethno-funk, essentially adapting his style to the Indian classical tradition. Hellborg makes some interesting choices, also, in the composition of the working group assembled for the recording, adding only an Indian vocalist, V. Umamahesh, and two percussionists, V. Selvaganesh and V. Umashankar, who play the ghatam and kanjeera, two types of hand drums used in the Southern Indian musical tradition. Hellborg and Lane assume roles normally taken by the sitar, sarod, vina, sarangi, or other Indian stringed instrument, with Lane also apparently simulating a tamboura (the Indian drone instrument) on occasion. This CD is a curious but elegant masterpiece, and for sheer virtuosity and soul rivals the very best of McLaughlin’s work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti.