Forty Days (Rajamani Productions)
Forty Nights (Rajamani Productions)
With these two simultaneously released albums, Oliver Rajamani has again showed his mastery for intertwining international music styles. With Forty Days, the more effusive of the pair, the South India-born Rajamani and his eclectic ensemble weave a brilliant, exciting tapestry that principally blends traditional Indian music with Spanish/Gypsy flamenco and Middle Eastern melodies. The first two tracks, "Ven Conmigo" and "Llorar," derived from poems by Pablo Neruda and Garcia Lorca, respectively, combine all of these musical elements while being sung en español. A pair of classic American spirituals, "This World Is Not My Home" and "Wayfaring Stranger," both arranged beautifully by Rajamani and containing some Tamil lyrics, are fascinating to hear played on exotic instruments and deeply moving as well. There's a distinctive undercurrent of spirituality that runs through all this music. It's particularly evident in the companion set, Forty Nights, a far more restrained and meditative collection that largely eschews joyful musical interface. Considerably darker in tone, this set adheres more closely to the dictates of Rajamani's Indian roots as tunes like "Usha" and "Yeshua" attest. The Hill Country Strings are used effectively on the lengthy, raga-like "The Little Black Fish." The album closes, interesting enough, with a tabla-inflected reading of Dylan's "Forever Young," which, in this context, not only gives the song a more reverent feel, but also ties it to the cross-cultural tenor of Forty Days, making it a fitting closure of this heartfelt musical circle.