Shankar: Vision (ECM 1261)


Shankar 10-string double violin, percussion
Jan Garbarek tenor, soprano and bass saxophones, percussion
Palle Mikkelborg trumpet, fluegelhorn
Recorded April 1983 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

After the masterstroke of Who’s To Know, perhaps it was inevitable that the growing ECM pool would provide unusual collaborative opportunities for the 10-string stereophonic electric violin of L. Shankar. And that we certainly are given in Vision, an unearthly journey that finds him in the company of saxophonist Jan Garbarek and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg. The former is a no-brainer for this date, while the latter provides an ethereal depth to the already expansive sound. Shankar’s violin is heavily flanged throughout, an effect that does grow tiresome after a while. But such caveats hardly register in the melodious hearth in which they burn.

One need only follow the pizzicato footsteps of “All For You” to get acquainted with the album’s beauties and to feel the shadows of Garbarek and Mikkelborg flying overhead. With this exuberant awakening still echoing inside us, we can only close our eyes in the title track. Amid the raspy breath of the violin’s lower strings, the air itself vibrates with a cosmic growl, as if some enormous lioness were slowly coming out of her shell in Terje Rypdal’s dreams. Through the glacial slides of “Astral Projection,” Garbarek and Mikkelborg etch a flock of shooting stars in a slow-moving tide of meditation. “Psychic Elephant” follows in much the same vein as the opener, blossoming into a pizzicato line that one could listen to for hours on its own. This time around, Mikkelborg dons the ether like a cloak, while Garbarek surprises with rare turns on drums and bass saxophone. Only here does Shankar lose himself in more pronounced streams of life before the solitude of “The Message” carries us into stasis.

I wasn’t fully convinced by this album the first time I heard it, yet as I have grown with it, so too has it grown with me: proof positive of its power to transcend the disc on which it was recorded and find sanctum in the human heart.

<< Chick Corea/Gary Burton: Lyric Suite For Sextet (ECM 1260)
>> Kenny Wheeler: Double, Double You (ECM 1262)

One thought on “Shankar: Vision (ECM 1261)

  1. This is a wonderful album to be heard in near quiet and appreciate the humaness of music and its impact on us all. ECM with its wonderful collaboration has made this something i have to listen to on a daily basis

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