Toronto Tabla Ensemble
self released (www.tablaensemble.com)
This second recording from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble adds samples, melody instruments, and some wry compositional elements to the ensemble's firm base in percussion, primarily the ringing, slapping percussion of the Indian tabla and related hand drums.
"Restless" can be a harrowing ten minutes, especially for listeners familiar with insomnia, a dreamy vibraphone melody constantly under assault, tormented and mocked, by a shifting constellation of trip-hammer percussion, repose annoyingly just out of reach, a precisely-titled low-intensity audio nightmare. "Tongue Twister Two" wraps ambient city soundscapes and an answering machine message apologetically elevating hockey over tabla (this is, after all, Canada) around sly, informal renditions of what are usually quite formal Indian vocal exercises; Ritesh and Joanna Das' vocals not only convey percussive precision, but amused character. A western drum kit, bass, and haunted vibraphone impart an ominous, worried note to the busy tablas on "What To Do?" "Tap Root" opens with a Beijing soundscape, moves into galloping tablas behind what sounds like a sort of hammered dulcimer, before settling into an off-balance jazzy groove featuring quiet piano, followed by chanting, a ten minute audio tour of the East. Second Palla can be dramatic, disturbing and funny, but it is always entertaining. - Jim Foley
Audio file: "Sample This" composed by Ritesh Das
Used by permission. ©1998 TTE