Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

Doug Cox & Salil Bhatt

Slide To Freedom

2007-03-14

On this disc, Canadian Doug Cox melds his Mississippi Delta resophonic guitar grooves with the other worldly sounding Mohan Veena (a 19 string guitar like instrument) and Satvik Veena (featuring 20 strings- 3 for the main melody, 5 for drone and 12 sympathetic strings) played by the father and son team of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Salil Bhatt. Add Ramkumar Mishra on Tabla (a percussion instrument) and you have a fully realized fusion of East and West. While there’s nary a boogie, shuffle or blues rock lick to be found, traditional blues fans who relish deft acoustic picking and slides burning up the strings will find plenty to like here. Those who want to ease slowly into the fusion of sounds should first check out the somewhat straight forward takes on Blind Willie Johnson’s "Soul of a Man", Mississippi John Hurt’s "Pay Day" and Cox’s own, "Beware of the Man (who calls you Bro)" which feature Cox’s soulful vocals and a more prominent place for his resonator licks. While these cuts certainly feature some Eastern sounds they are accents instead of being the primary sonic palette. Those willing to jump straight into the mystical sounds of the East should light the incense, crank up the stereo and get ready for the hypnotic interplay amongst the musicians on the 10 minute plus "Bhoopali Dance" which reveals the many facets of the Satvik Veena by starting with an unhurried delicate trance inducing groove before igniting into a string sizzling, note bending delight. Keeping the Eastern mood intact, "Arabian Night" transports you to a far away desert scene that is as sweltering as the dense heat of the Delta that is at the core of so much of the traditional blues while the quieter, more reflective, "Fish Pond", suggests an easy afternoon with a cane pole. The oddly named Meeting by the Liver conjures up a sinister movie plot made all the more menacing by Cox’s wild attack on his guitar while a modal groove is percolating in the background. Adventuresome blues fans will have something to chew on with this interesting release. Those stuck in the Delta will be wondering who stuck the sound track to the curry joint down the street in their disc player. Mark Smith

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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