Simon Thacker's Svara Kanti Trikala Double Album CD Review Tuesday 20th November 2018

With Edinburgh Entertainment & Arts


Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti double album Trikala saw the culmination of over 3 years of work, recorded in Scotland and India with its release on November 15.  By anybody’s standards, this album is a major work with all of the music being either written, or reimagined, by Simon Thacker and featuring 13 of the very best performers based in Europe from Hindustani classical (north), Carnatic classical (south), Punjabi folk (west) and Bengali mysticalfolk  Baul Tradition of both India and Bangladesh (east).

Over the last few years, I have reviewed Simon’s earlier albums exploring this fusion of music and cultures (this one is his third), but the album is on a far larger scale than anything that Simon has created and recorded previously.  Speaking to Simon over the years about his music, I have some small idea of the massive amount of research, care, attention, creativity and time that will have been put into not only this double album, but also the 40 page booklet that is included in the CD package.  Not forgetting too, the live performances that will be taking place to promote this album.

The title of this new album, Trikala, takes its name from the Sanskrit word for the three tenses of time, past, present and future, and used in this context, the word is perfect as this album has a sense of time flowing like a river throughout it; no fixed point, simply moving constantly backwards and forwards from some undetermined central point.  Unlike much music from many different cultures, there is no time reference here, no period to which you could say that this music “belongs”.  I suspect that a listener re-discovering this work 50, even 100 years from now would find that it had not dated in the slightest, and that time really had no fixed reference point to its creation.

The 21 songs in this huge cycle of work draw inspiration from many sources in different cultures as folk music, myths, epics, and different classical structures from major musical forms blend and merge into something unique, drawing inspiration from each, but belonging to no one fixed culture.  Here, as in previous albums, Simon Thacker has charted his own musical paths and following where they will lead as a listener is always a pleasure.  In the songs here I recognise elements that will surprise people, and the influence of Indian music on Flamenco guitar sounds (amongst many others) is evident here if you listen, and as you listen more, you begin to realise what a multi-crossing of cultural paths this work truly is.

My only barrier to some of the music is the language of the singers, but that is the same for any foreign language song that I do not understand, and reading the well written notes in the booklet for this CD explains so much of the sources and stories behind much of this music that much of the larger picture is filled in for you as a listener.   Sometimes, this exploration into new musical forms can be surprising, sometimes unexpected, but always a pleasure as somehow Simon Thacker has put many different pieces of many different jig-saw puzzles together to make a new picture that somehow is complete in itself as a new and striking  work.

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Review by Tom King




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