1/ Universal Consciousness (Coltrane) 5.02 2/ Battle At Armageddon (Coltrane) 7.19 3/ Oh Allah (Coltrane) 4.53 4/ Hare Krishna (Traditional) 8.14 5/ Sita Ram (Traditional) 4.45 6/ The Ankh Of Amen-Ra (Coltrane) 6.10 Recorded April-June 1971 at A&R Recording, New York City and/or at the Coltrane Studio, Dix Hills, New York Engineers at Dix Hills: W. Barneke and Roy Musgnug Engineer at A&R: Tony May Mixed by Tony May and Ed Michel Produced by Alice Coltrane and Ed MichelAlice Coltrane: harp, organ; Jimmy Garrison (1,3,4,5): bass; Jack DeJohnette (1,3,4): drums; Clifford Jarvis: drums (4,5), percussion (4); Rashied Ali: drums (2,6), wind chimes (6); Tulsi (4,5): tamboura; John Blair, Julius Brand, Leroy Jenkins and Joan Kalisch (1,3,4): violin.
String arrangements on tracks 1,3 and 4 by Alice Coltrane
Tracks 4 and 5 arranged by Alice Coltrane
Transcriptions on tracks 1,3 and 4 by Ornette Coleman
1971 - Impulse!/ABC (USA), AS-9210 (Vinyl) 2002 - Impulse! (USA), 314 589 514-2 (CD) 2011 - Impulse!/Verve/Universal (USA), 06007 5334726 (CD)Note: The 2011 edition is part of Impulse!'s "2-on-1" series, containing the complete "Lord of Lords" as well.
On side two, "Hare Krishna" is a chant-like piece that is birthed from minor-key ascendancy with a loping string figure transcribed by Coleman from Coltrane's composition on the organ. She lays deep in the cut, offering large shimmering chords that twirl ó eventually ó around high-register ostinatos and pedal work. It's easily the most beautiful and accessible track in the set, in that it sings with a devotion that has at its base the full complement of Coltrane's compositional palette. "Sita Ram" is a piece that echoes "Hare Krishna" in that it employs Garrison and drummer Clifford Jarvis, but replaces the strings with a tamboura player. Everything here moves very slowly, harp and organ drift into and out of one another like breath, and the rhythm section ó informed by the tamboura's drone ó lilts on Coltrane's every line. As the single-fingered lines engage the rhythm section more fully toward the end of the tune, it feels like a soloist improvising over a chanting choir. Finally, the album ends with another duet between Ali and Coltrane. Ali uses wind chimes as well as his trap kit, and what transpires between the two is an organically erected modal architecture, where texture and timbre offer the faces of varying intervals: Dynamic, improvisational logic and tonal exploration become elemental figures in an intimate yet universal conversation that has the search itself and the uncertain nature of arrival, either musically or spiritually, at its root. This ambiguity is the only way a recording like this could possibly end, with spiritual questioning and yearning in such a musically sophisticated and unpretentious way. The answers to those questions can perhaps be found in the heart of the music itself, but more than likely they can, just as they are articulated here, only be found in the recesses of the human heart. This is art of the highest order, conceived by a brilliant mind, poetically presented in exquisite collaboration by divinely inspired musicians and humbly offered as a gift to listeners. It is a true masterpiece. The CD reissue by Universal comes with a handsome Japanese-style five-by-five-inch paper sleeve with liner notes reprinted inside and devastatingly gorgeous 24-bit remastering.
Tom Jurek (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)
At last Impulse (now owned by Verve) have finally released Coltrane's 1971 album Universal Consciousness on CD. In terms of Coltrane's output it probably one of her more way out records of devotional music but is well worth sticking with. At first listen the heady mix of harp, organ, violins, drums and unpronounceable Indian instruments can be a bit unsettling but after a few listens starts to make some kind of strange sense. If you havenít listened to Alice Coltrane before Iíd recommend trying something like Journey In Satchidananda or the Astral Meditations compilation first but donít, what ever you do, ignore this fantastic music.
Jim (courtesy of Plink website)