1/  Bhavani Shankara                           (Uttal)                       9.16
  2/  Bolo Ram (Let the Spirits Sing)            (Uttal)                       8.19
  3/  Down On My Knees                           (Uttal)                       5.27
  4/  Hanuman's Heart                            (Uttal,Kersner)               3.45
  5/  Never Felt This Love                       (Uttal)                       10.58
  6/  Let Me Be Sky                              (Uttal)                       5.59
  7/  Adonai                                     (Uttal)                       8.37
  8/  Thunder Love Blues                         (Uttal)                       3.49
  9/  Om Shanti                                  (Uttal)                       5.05

          Recorded at LoveLand Studios and Old Bull Studios, San Anselmo, CA and
            Cressman Studios, San Francisco, CA
          Engineering and digital editing: Ben Leinbach
          Mix translation by Bill Laswell
          Additional mixing: Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach
          Produced by Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach
          Executive Producers: David Saltz and Jai Uttal
          Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtletone Studios, NYC
Jai Uttal: lead vocals, acoustic, electric and soprano guitars, banjo, bass (3), jambush, dotar, harmonium, keyboards, harmonica, cookware, toy instruments, sounds and sample manipulation, kartals, kanjira, auxiliary percussion, echoplex; Ben Leinbach: keyboards, bass (1), sound mangling, drum loops, mouth drums, snare drum, bass drum, udu pot, boomwackers, glockenspiel, auxiliary percussion, pots and pans, backing vocals; Michael Spiro: congas, surdo, rebolo, bongo, repenique, talking drum, snare drum, caxixi, shakers, cuica, agogo bells, woodblocks, tamorim tree, pandero; Peter Apfelbaum: drum kit, piano, organ, glockenspiel, rhodes, melodica; Dr. M. Manjunath: violin; Bhima-Karma V. Saragrahi: Bengali Mridangam; Gary Brown: bass (1,2,6,7); Keith McArthur: bass (4,9); Manose: bansuri flute; Jeff Cressman: trombone; Chicago Childrens Choir: background vocals (4,6,9); Tina Malia, Sandy Cressman and Sandy Griffith: background vocals (1,2,5,7,8); Ezra Gopol Teixeira Uttal: background vocals (5); Bill Laswell: fretless bass interludes (7), additional bass (3), percussion (3).

          2009 - Pavana Suta/Nutone (USA), 0 6700 30834 2 3 (CD)


After focusing on traditional Kirtan (chanting) music for the last several years, Jai Uttal returns to his signature blend of world-music, American roots music, and devotional Bengali chanting. This recording is exceptionally well crafted and produced, and Jai does an amazing job of incorporating sultry Brazilian rhythms with ancient Sanskrit mantras. The spectrum of instruments used on this Cd is just astounding, and I especially enjoyed the documentation and use of “toy instruments, cookware, and pots and pans.” This is the most rockin’ and musically diverse Cd Jai has recorded, and by far one of the most enjoyable. And even though these tracks have a fast tempo and a definite western rock style to them, there is also a noticeable sweetness to all of the tracks, especially on Never Felt This Love, which features the vocals of his son Ezra. This would be a great album to introduce someone to the world of chanting and is a must-have for Jai Uttal fans.

Timothy Burgin (courtesy of the Yoga Basics website)


Landmark Album From World Devotional Pioneer

Always the most adventurous and musically eclectic artist on the mantra/world devotional music scene, Jai Uttal has exceeded even his own high standard of excellence on Thunder Love. Jai's got a new groove and it's Brazilian, sexy, captivating, profoundly devotional and deeply hypnotic in a distinctly Latin, Magical Realist mode. Somehow Jai has found a way to subsume the vast ocean of North Indian devotional music into the equally capacious continent of Brazilian rhythms. The result is an album that will wind up your waist while it touches your heart and soul.

Thunder Love belongs in a class with landmark albums like Byrne & Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Paul Simon's Graceland. Those discs helped introduce African music to North American listeners; and Thunder Love may well do the same for Brazilian music. But Jai doesn't merely appropriate Brazilian idioms like some cultural tourista. A master musician, he's completely grasped the lilting sway of Brazilian rhythm--just check out his nylon string guitar work on "Bhavani Shankara," for example. Beyond this, however, he uses the sounds of Brazil as a gateway to his own private musical and devotional universe. Listeners familiar with Jai's work will find references to many of his most beloved musical influences including Appalachian mountain music, Bengali kirtan and the spectre of bluesman Robert Johnson--all alongside glances at contemporary dance music and pop sounds. The Brazilian thing also seems to have given Jai a whole new angle on Jamaican reggae riddims. The Bob Marley/I-Threes vibe comes on strong, particularly in the gorgeously silky backing vocals.

And the loops! The backwards guitar stuff! The ambient textures on Thunder Love are truly are worthy of something from Radiohead's OK Computer. The mixes are so beautifully dense that you don't know what you're hearing at times. Is that a tabla? A guira? Some kind of ultra processed guitar scratch? Buddhist nuns chanting? It's so blissful to swim in that ocean of aural indeterminacy. There's this sense of street sounds and rural rituals drifting in through the windows and doors of perception, all blending into the oneness of music and consciousness.

Lyrically, Jai also goes out on limb, combining his own English verses with traditional Sanskrit mantras. This is a particularly courageous move. It's very hard to translate the language of devotion into our everyday English. Most efforts to do so come off mawkish and kind of wincingly "New Age." But Thunder Love finds ideal meeting ground here as well. The transitions between personal lyrical expression and timeless mantra are really flawless. Jai really make us feel that his own journey is the journey that we are all on. On Thunder Love, it's as if Jai Uttal has found a way to get the entire universe onto a compact disc.

5 stars out of 5

Tenzin Yangchen (courtesy of Amazon.com website)