FriedSitar was a late 90s group headed by the anglo composer of marvelous North Indian-styled music, Ed Powell, who, in the 2000s, continues an aesthetic wanderlust while recording a number of CDs under his own cognomen, three of which are reviewed here, here, and here. Later to invent the wondrous ragmakamtar and play several instruments, in Fresh he sticks to sitar and far surpasses what Brian Jones and George Harrison achieved. The music itself is an astute blend of modern idioms and ancient traditions that recalls Between, Shakti, ECM's such ventures, and, vaguely, the woolier jazz adventures of John Stowell, David Friesen, and others.
Powell speaks of the ensemble's 'somewhat psychedelic intention', and the 15 cuts here go far to bolster that. We may wish to recall that a goodly portion of the 60s psychedelic movement based itself not only in weird pedals and distortion devices but also jamming and twisted takes on roots Americana, next pilfering from various cultures, India's very non-Western modes prominent among them. Thanks Milan early demonstrates how that was achieved, blending bluesy modes, Indian melodics, dulcimer-ish chords on the sitar, and vaguely folk undertones. Scott White plays a muscular contrabass, stepping out in Krumlov and elsewhere, to a delightful ringing harmonic background from Powell while Emil Heyrovsky mans the drums and tables, mainly the latter in Colin Walcotty measures.
Smetana is even farther out, something The Grateful Dead might have done had they taken up such Eastern chops with rock, blues, and jazz interpolated and extrapolated. Though Fresh was done much later, it drips with the experimentalism and refined boldness of the mid to late 70s before punk came along and crashed many dreams in the 80s.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles