U. Srinivas & Michael Brook, 1995
A union between India's premier mandolin player and a renowned Canadian guitarist/producer, U Srinivas and Michael Brook's album 'Dream' (Real World Records) was constructed from recorded performances at Real World Studios. Assisting in the exploration of Eastern and Western themes are guests Nigel Kennedy, Nana Vasconcelos, Sikkil R Bhaskarnan, Caroline Lavelle, Tchad Blake (whose binaural recordings can be heard on the 'WOMAD Live at the Carnival of Venice' album), Trey Gunn and Richard Evans; Jane Siberry provides guest vocals on the eponymous closing track.
The idea for the album was born after Srinivas and Brook worked together on 'Rama Sreerama', an album of traditional Karnatak music. "I sensed there was potential for experimental work as well," says Brook. "So I went through my musical sketch-books looking for things that could be adapted for him, and I started to do some preparatory work with my sampler. I recorded some ideas with cellist Caroline Lavelle and worked out sequences, backing-tracks and rhythmic patterns I thought would be interesting. That was before we started any work with Srinivas. There were certain themes and concepts around the making of the album, but it was also very much 'see what happens' with Srinivas as the focus."
So 'Dream' evolved, an album of four pieces - Dance, Think, Run and Dream - which capture both Indian music's meditative spirit and occasional heavy metal blasts, in combination with Western atmospherics. Brook adds that, "Prior to this, Srinivas hadn't worked very much with electronics, but he was interested in innovative ways of recording. We got this system going where I played the role of a conductor and used hand signals to say 'Don't play - wait', or 'Just play a little bit - then wait a little bit'."
Brook says this method of recording in snatches is a new one for him, and - with the aid of new technologies - is very much the direction his work is taking. Critics were amazed at the audacity of Srinivas, Brook and team: here is an album, they said, that is astonishing, accessible, visionary and even better than trip-hop!
Grooves, melodies, drones and discords creep up and mesmerise; samples of Indian bicycle bells and even melodies from the studio's metal stair railings have been thrown into a mix to produce a work of seamless, colourful beauty. "Once we finished the initial recording sessions it was very much, 'Well, OK, we have got some amazing stuff strewn all over the floor; can we make something cohesive out of it?'" muses Brook. "There are elements of everything in it, so we jokingly referred to it as an ambient-crossover-techno-fusion record!"
- Dream is a fusion project par excellence, a rich amalgam of cultures and acoustic and electronic textures laid down in the studio. Folk Roots (UK)
- 'Entrancing, tranquil and extremely atmospheric, ...this is a masterful disc, showing that Srinivas can adapt effortlessly to a totally unexpected setting. The Birmingham Post (UK)
- 'This somewhat unlikely union of an Indian mandolin player and a Canadian guitarist/producer results in what has to be one of the most exciting, intriguing and rewarding CDs released this year.' Hull Daily Mail (UK)