1/  Guru Bramha                                (Uttal)                       4.25
  2/  Shiva Station (Namah Shivaya)              (Uttal)                       7.12
  3/  Hari Guna Gao                              (Uttal)                       7.01
  4/  Calling You                                (Telson)                      3.25
  5/  Malkouns (Night On the Ganges)             (Uttal)                       5.10
  6/  Rama Raghava                               (Uttal)                       7.20
  7/  Bhajore                                    (Uttal)                       7.28
  8/  Corner                                     (Public Domain)               4.41
  9/  Sita Ram                                   (Uttal,Apfelbaum)             6.40
  10/ Jaya Jagadambe (She Who Tears              (Uttal,Apfelbaum)             8.40
             Apart Thought)
  11/ Never Turn Away                            (Uttal,Kagel)                 5.14

          Recorded at Spark Studios, Emeryville, California
          Enineered by Ben Leinbach and Tony Mills
          Resolved at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Mix translation by Bill Laswell
          Mix engineer at: Robert Musso
          Assistant at Greenpoint: Diabel Faye
          Produced by Jai Uttal
          Track 4 produced by Jai Uttal and Rob Vlack
          Executive Producers: Mitchell Markus and K.D. Kagel
          Pre-mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studio, NYC
          Compiled and mastered by Joe Gastwirt at OceanView Digital Mastering,
            West Los Angeles, CA
Maestro Swapan Chaudhuri (5,6,10): tabla, dholak, baya; Moinudhin Khan: sarangi; Peck Allmond (6): trumpet; Steve Gorn: bansuri; Jan Jackson (4): drums; Rob Vlack (4): acoustic guitar, keyboards, sampling, sequencing; Kitty Beethoven, Ledici Young & Riffat Salamat Ali Khan: back-up vocals; THE PAGAN LOVE ORCHESTRA - Jai Uttal: vocals, dotar, ektar, harmonium, gub gubbi, kartals, Swaramandala, banjo, sampling, sequencing, a little guitar; Peter Apfelbaum: drums (except 4), tenor and soprano saxophones, melodica, African bells, vocals, mixing consultant; Will Bernard: electric and acoustic guitars; Jeff Cressman: trombones, cornet; Geoffrey Gordon: tabla, dholak, hand drums, timbales, miscellaneous percussion; Keith McArthur: bass; Irene Sazer: violin, viola; Kit Walker: keyboards, Hammond B-3 organ.

          1997 - Worldly/Triloka/Mercury (USA), 314 534 911-2 (CD)
Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.


Track 2 Shiva Station is reggae influenced. The guitar is tuned to sound like a sitar. Uttal's voice absolutely booms out at you. He sounds like the devotee in love with the guru and his / her teachings, wanting to take all on board, immersing himself in the fountain of divine truth. Jai Uttal does more to promote the concept of Indian religious music through this band than a lot of musicians who are involved in the east-west fusion game. I spent several months in an ashram in Herrakhan India about ten years ago doing exactly what Uttal does (not anywhere as well I may add). Hearing Jai Uttal singing these songs of praise and devotion always brings back good memories for me. Repetition of the mantra brings on its own trance like state and as such JU sounds like he is in a semi permanent state of bliss and ecstasy, surrounded by his group of female backup singers. I can't help thinking that he has a beautiful voice. In fact it comes as a pleasant shock to suddenly hear him sing in English with the tune Calling You from Bhagdad Cafe. In fact on this recording he also sings in Bengali, Hindi and Sanskrit. Malkoun is an instrumental piece with all out support from the brass section, scorching guitar solos and killer bass playing. I assume from Mr Bill Laswell who mixed this release [Actually Keith McArthur. Laswell only mixed this release -- SW]. Mine is a promo copy with not too much data but it sounds like him. Just as it sounds like it's all going to get bigger than Ben Hur, the harmonium brings it all to earth.

Rama Rhagawa-flute intro,electric guitar toned down into the background, JU sings introspectively, a muted trumpet weaving in and out of all this before the orchestra kicks in. For me a moment of sheer magic and poetry. Great to hear the Hammond organ. Not enough people use it in their music. I think suddenly about McLaughlin's time with Mahavishnu. They were intense and sonically challenging at the best of times, but what a group. The Pagan Love Orchestra reminds me of them somehow. I guess because both made a serious attempt at fusing east with west. Uttal is not as full frontal though. Here is a man at peace but still forceful in his delivery. Who is the trumpet player here? Whoever they are, they are hot.

Listening to this brings back so many memories for me. crossing the border into India from Nepal, sitting on a bus, taking the perfect picture of a three year old girl who had the eyes of an old soul, palm trees, the smell of coconuts and mangoes,sandalwood incense, Indian women laughing at the big guy sitting behind them. The radio is playing Bollywood music. God it's funny. Voices saying lambhu lambhu. Months alter afterhearing it too many times I finally asked someone what it means. Tall person. I laughed. What a mad place India is.So diverse and spiritual,beautiful and frightening at the same time if you are not ready for it. Jai Uttal's music is like this. The overall feeling is that they are having fun doing this and so it should be. Absolutely a great album if you are at all interested in the fusion of east and west.

Hans Stoeve (courtesy of the Nadabrahma website)


It's no exaggeration saying Jai Uttal is the best in his genre. He's the only one in his genre. He's built his devotional music shtick from the ground up, and his contagious enthusiasm transcends any doubts I have about forbearing hymns to Shiva, Krishna, and others in the Hindu pantheon. In some of his earlier material, rococo English-language lyrics pitched promising songs down the kitsch chute. But ‘Shiva Station’ shows Uttal mostly sticking with Hindi, Sanskrit, and Bengali, wrapping chants of praise in aggressively bright arrangements courtesy of his big band, The Pagan Love Orchestra.

Borrowing his thrown vocal technique from wandering mystics the Bauls of Bengal, marrying it to an amplified amalgam with no obvious ancestors except maybe the Mahivishnu Orchestra, and punching up the incarnation with horns, distortion guitar solos, acoustic Indian instruments like the gub gubbi, and big thumping bass, Uttal concocts a kind of Yogi klezmer. Emotional intensity is everything, and in the manner of the furious freyleks launched by the Klezmatics, the soul bares itself in endless crescendos as cuts like "Sita Ram" mountain-goat from one peak after another. "Hari Guna Gao" starts with an alap a la classical Indian music, proposes a harmonium over a snappy drumkit and a subcontinent of synthesizers, then floats Jai on the foam of Krishna qawwali. Sure, the guy's no Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He sings like a white Californian ex-rocker, but whether pushing the interdimensional envelope or laying back in a meditative croon, he wields lifetimes worth of accumulated charisma.

Countless artists from John Coltrane to Mickey Hart's Diga Rhythm Band have been building pontoon bridges between East and West for decades, but none with Uttal's playfulness. The title cut marries a hara-hara chant right off a Bay Area street corner with a convincing reggae rhythm track, and neither vocals nor backing feel grafted on. The organic wholistic chi is the beauty of this stuff, and the fact that the Pagans can start and stop on a rupee or unfurl a roaring trombone when needed nails the performances with the intensity of a freshly scrubbed gaggle of converts. Credit the power of Jai's invention that only on the closing cut "Never Turn Away," the last of three English languages songs, does spirit get in the way of flesh as message supersedes the music. Since I rarely play even my favorite discs to the end, I simply exit ‘Shiva Station’ before the terminal.

Bob Tart (courtesy of the The Beat magazine website)