Uncle Carl "SONG OF THE WEEK" The Veil
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Out There
© 2004 Murray / Narayan

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The Unseen Guest
Out There

Total Time: 46:25
Cost: $11.98 +s/h*
"Imported from Singapore"

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STYLE: Mid-Eastern Indian Folk Jam

HOME TOWN: Ireland / India

1. Let Me In
2. In The Black
3. Anywhere Somewhere
4. Listen My Son
5. Mangala Express
6. Sandalista
7. Out There
8. Circle In The Dirt
9. One Down
10. Never Enough

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The Unseen Guest

Issue #71                             Feb. '05

OK, I’ll be the first to admit I needed an atlas to help me with my geography on this one.

Listing Ireland as their hometown, The Unseen Guest sent us their CD with a Singapore postmark. Further investigating found that the songwriting team of Declan Murray (from Ireland) and Amith Narayan (from India) had crossed paths in South India and sometime after that gotten together in Mumbai (Bombay) to develop what was quickly becoming a very interesting, intense, intricate, and unique style and sound. With the help of a half dozen local musicians from Amith’s hometown of Calicut in Kerala, India, The Unseen Guest created Out There, a CD the combines the basic western singer/songwriter style with that of Traditional Mid-Eastern/Indian instruments and sound.

Prepare yourself to be mesmerized, to be whisked off on a magic carpet ride – Dig the sound – It digs deep within the soul. Such an astonishing sound purges forth that you cannot help but get into the tunes themselves, each one remarkably laid out in exquisitely arranged jams. Want to reach the inner soul of the music? Listen, listen to the live jams and the intensity of the leads. Song after song features a bridge that carries a lead solo alternating through such a varied and nuanced trade off with another more exotic and interesting instrument to produce an introspection that can’t help but lend itself to the lyrics, yet 3 songs in and all I am raving about is the instrumental dance of each song that leads us through one of the most solemn, intrinsic, and personal journey of peacefulness that I’ve encountered in a long time.

It all owes itself to Declan and Amith’s ability to utilize the beautiful, tranquil sounds of every exotic Indian instrument I have never heard of. Some of these, like the tablas, mridangam, dholaks, ganjra, ghadam, edakka, and thavil, I can’t even pronounce, let alone spell – hell, I couldn’t even spell ‘em if they weren’t listed in the liner notes. In fact, I do not even know what either an edakka or a ganjra sounds like (nor many of the others), but I can tell you that I can hear them all here on this disc, and it is an amazing discovery of sound. I suggest headphones. Moreover, I, being a dinosaur of a purest, still do not listen to 5.1-channel sound – yet. However, if any disc would get me to consider making such an upgrade to my stereo system, it would be this one by The Unseen Guest. Out There could end up being a catalyst for 5.1-channel sound systems much in the same way that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon made people go out and purchase Quadraphonic sound systems in the early 70s.

Accenting and deriving a solid rhythm section from the Indian percussion, which relies heavily on hand drums, wood blocks and many others, interspersed with the various stringed delicacies of the culture (more than once The Beatles sitar/Ravi Shankar and The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request period of psychedelic experimentation  is recalled), it’s Declan’s and Amith’s guitars that shine throughout. Declan’s electric/slide/acoustic/bass guitars and Amith’s mandolin/electric/acoustic/bass guitars – mixed and matched in any and all combinations strike deep to the soul in a pure musical frenzy. A perfect example of this is the middle portion of the disc, from the middle up-tempo bridge jam of Listen My Son to the five-minute, slow, haunting instrumental Mangala Express and the relentless bongos that fuel the acoustic rhythms churning around a high strung mandolin (or is that one of the exotic instruments I can’t pronounce?) in Sandalista. It is not hard to lose ourselves in what we can actually feel and picture. So vivid a picture develops of these artists gathered around in a stone and tiled room of a Mid-Eastern Temple, laid out with fine fabrics and rugs, the smell of incense and opiates rising, while each artist is transfixed on not only playing his particular instrument, but possessed and bent on intertwining it with the others in a romantic dance that transcends mere mortal being and rises to an existential plane that each individual strives to visit, yet needs the accompaniment of another/others to achieve, that we realize The Unseen Guest is our ticket to this deep philosophical enrichment of life. To put it mildly, these guys rock so intensely with these instruments, you can’t help to be awed by it all.

Want more? The Title track, Out There, starts with light acoustic chords joined by several block and bass rhythms and a lead acoustic guitar before the Harmonium kicks in. Yes a Harmonium, and man does it sound so sweet, it just pumps along and puts a crowning touch on what is another in a disc filled with remarkable sounds and songs. And, while we’ve been remiss in addressing the lyrics (it’s all the music’s fault ;-), it is here where Declan’s lead vocals give us a very Berlin era David Bowie playing Tony Bennett crooner feel that draws our attention to the words this duo have used to give even more sustenance to what we have been experiencing: a worldview that issues forth a slice of the reality of humanity - its ups, downs, virtues and faults. Some songs will cause you to wonder, others will call forth your sympathy for those less fortunate. Some contrast the beautiful aura set forth by the music with tales of individual (and to a point collective) destitute, be they material or spiritual, such as in One Down, a sad tale of injustice at many (personal) levels, all delivered in a solemn ballad that summons forth the power of a Harvest era Neil Young harmonica crying throughout.

I may have needed the atlas to understand in geographical terms where The Unseen Guest was coming from, but it is their music that is the map to an inner journey of intense tranquility.
It’s Out There

Come and get it.

Out There by The Unseen Guest
is available now for:
$11.98 +s/h*
"Imported from Singapore"

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*Shipping & Handling charges:
USA - $3.00 for the first 2 CDs ordered,
                     Add $1.50 per each CD after.
Canada - $5.00 for the first CD ordered,
                          Add $2.00 per each CD after.
Everywhere else -$7.00 for the first CD ordered,
                                        Add $3.00 per each CD after.

Uncle Carl Go To Top The Veil

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