Unlike many who enter the treacherous realm of dance that combines club rhythms with world music aesthetics, DJ Cheb I Sabbah forgets about "synergy" and trusts the source material and his own musical voice to provide the ... more »dance floor impetus. Long stretches of Krishna Lila are lifted straight from the sitar-driven classical-folk Indian traditions of Ravi Shankar, Ashwin Batish, and the Middle Eastern tabla rhythms of master percussionists like Zakir Hussain. Even more so than 1999's Shri Durga, Sabbah lends only very subtle production touches to his ragas and drones, spending Lila's running time in a confident glaze. The approach succeeds by recognizing the inherent beats already present and implied in the rich texture of Hindustani musical culture. Durga had its more mix-oriented follow-up in Maha Maya, so perhaps Sabbah will release a similar companion piece for this record. Until then, he leaves a pack of confused DJs in his wake, while he tries to liberate the tin from some of dance music's more robotically compliant ears. --Matthew Cooke« less
Unlike many who enter the treacherous realm of dance that combines club rhythms with world music aesthetics, DJ Cheb I Sabbah forgets about "synergy" and trusts the source material and his own musical voice to provide the dance floor impetus. Long stretches of Krishna Lila are lifted straight from the sitar-driven classical-folk Indian traditions of Ravi Shankar, Ashwin Batish, and the Middle Eastern tabla rhythms of master percussionists like Zakir Hussain. Even more so than 1999's Shri Durga, Sabbah lends only very subtle production touches to his ragas and drones, spending Lila's running time in a confident glaze. The approach succeeds by recognizing the inherent beats already present and implied in the rich texture of Hindustani musical culture. Durga had its more mix-oriented follow-up in Maha Maya, so perhaps Sabbah will release a similar companion piece for this record. Until then, he leaves a pack of confused DJs in his wake, while he tries to liberate the tin from some of dance music's more robotically compliant ears. --Matthew Cooke
Kristi B. from N MUSKEGON, MI Reviewed on 8/22/2009...
Beats and drones from another world.. marvelous.
spiral_mind | Pennsylvania | 12/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where can I begin here? I know next to nothing about Indian music (save the Indian/jazz hybrid of John McLaughlin's Shakti). I don't recognize any of the musicians' names, and I'm not sure how to pronounce half the instruments. I don't know a raga from a tala from a polka. (Well ok, I do know THAT much.) But I've been addicted and entranced by Krishna Lila all the same; it's hypnotic, full of earthy beats and ethereal melodies, and as calming & relaxing as.. umm, something that's really calm and relaxing. I probably shouldn't be trying to write this while listening to the album, as it has a way of clearing my head and making me want to lie down for a nap.Where was I? Earthy beats. Cheb Sabbah's approach is to blend traditional Indian percussion & melodies with some slight electronic touches, although he uses the techno element as a subtle enhancement to the rhythm that's already there rather than making it dominant. Through this disc it's barely noticeable; I hear nothing but acoustic instruments for the first several minutes until a subdued beat creeps into "Maname Diname." Sometimes it's a quiet bass bump, sometimes it's a barely-there snare sample or light electronic beat. The focus here is on the music itself, a remarkable group of Indian selections performed with a passion that shines even through the quietly subdued trance of the whole disc. The songs never need to rise above mid-tempo, revealing their strength in easy mood-building rather than bursting energy. The singing is sometimes in foreign words and sometimes in a simple wordless chant, but when it's there it's strangely compelling.. whether it's floating along with the quiet percussive rhythm or riding over everything as if stretching to the heavens. This is devotional music after all, and it's only fitting that there's something trancelike and otherworldly about it.If you prefer the electronic elements to be a little more prominent, Sabbah's other albums are probably better choices - Shri Durga has more propulsive beats underpinning the traditional material, and Maha Maya features (most of) the SD album remixed by various club mixers and DJs. I also heartily recommend Tabla Beat Science, but that's for a different review. If you're in the mood for something refreshingly different, something exotic or just something mind-warmingly relaxing to chill to, look no further than Krishna Lila. Now excuse me, it's time for that nap."
Playing with the Blue God
Zak Kramer | Ohio | 07/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It took me almost a year to decide I loved "Shri Durga." I don't know why, but it struck me wrong when I first bought it. I let it sit, then stuck it in again, and blam! The fact that I'd delved deeply into Indian classical (particularly Hindustani) likely had some effect. So when I happened upon "Krishna Lila" I was overjoyed. Then I stuck it in the player.I was not disappointed. Slightly thrown off balance -- there are some significant differences from "Shri Durga" -- but luckily, the CD did not go the way of "Maha Maya" (which I didn't much care for.) In fact, quite the opposite: where "Maha Maya" consisted of remixes of pieces from "Shri Durga", many of which were, in my opinion, largely inferior to the originals, "Krishna Lila" is far more traditional, even acoustic, sounding.Don't get me wrong -- this is not you're father's old Ravi Shankar album with modern production values. If my ears aren't mistaking me, dj Cheb i Sabbah did quite a bit of work. While "Maha Maya" was often overwrought electronica, "Krishna Lila" is a sublime, sometimes comparatively rough sounding, celebration of devotional music from the Indian subcontinent. And when I say 'rough,' I mean that in a GOOD way. It's the difference between a supergroup who gets together in a $1000/hour studio and a band that's been playing live for parties and on street corners for decades. The latter just has that STUFF that the former, for all its flash, never will. Also, unlike much Western music, which strives to make things as clean as possible, much Indian music purposefully "dirties" things -- the sympathetic strings of the sitar which add lush overtones is a good example, the raspy sound of much Indian violin compared to, say, Western classical technique is another.So why only four stars, after I've gushed all over the screen? Because I have to admit that I missed the beats. I missed the transcendantal soundscapes of "Shri Durga" and the powerful, propulsive rhythms. On the other hand, I deeply respect dj Cheb i Sabbah for showing such breadth & such subtlety, something really, really lacking in far too much electronic/dance music. In other words, buy this CD. It may just change your life, and introduce you to musical worlds you'd never encountered before. But if you're looking to the newest DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN ravelectronicatrancewhateverit'scalledforthenextfiveminutes, you will be disappointed. If you're looking for potent beats and intense soundscapes, you'll be surprised, but, I think, pleasantly."
Michael J. Sax | 07/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well I bought this CD after reading the reviews and also listening to the samples not only from this site but from other sites as well. The listening samples actually doesn't highlight the best aspect of the music or do any justice to them.
Anyway this is a wonderful album.
This time DJ Cheb wants to experiment with South Indian Classical aswell. So the first part is South Indian Classical (Carnatic) and then part II is hindustani.
I enjoyed all of them ,my only suggestion to DJ is he could have used some more different ragas/scales esp for the Hindustani becoz some of it are on the same raga (Sindhoobhairavi)so felt like repetition to my ears they where all melodious ofcourse.
Final Note: A worthy Album and Sure buy"
Michael J. Sax | Bilambil Heights,, NSW Australia | 03/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a complex piece of music, with a large range of sonic atmospheres, not all of them "pure pleasure", but all of them thoughtful in terms of where they take you. It can be a challenge to get to the core of what is truly being expressed in this ancient music. Strange sounds and feelings are contained therin, and I am still sitting with it and discovering where it goes. I give it 4 stars only because it doesn't just grab you and shake your soul--it seems to ask your intellect to get involved as well, leading to a more thoughtful listening experience. Although he has put a very slight western spin on some cuts,which I like, I think the average western ear may be challenged by this. Still, I like it lots, and if you are into worldbeat, this can open new doors for you."
Close your eyes and listen
Sultan of Speed | Austin, Texas, USA | 01/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album soothes the soul deeply; as it should. All the tracks are A++, my favorite is Lagi Lagan.If you close your eyes and listen when she starts to sing... it gives me goosebumps.From what I understand this is classical Indian music drawn from two different schools of traditional Indian classical music: the Hindustani school of North India and the Carnatic school of South India. In India, the two are usually kept separate -- North Indian musicians who are schooled in Hindustani playing generally stick to that tradition, while South Indian musicians who receive carnatic training tend to stick to carnatic environments. Dj Shabbah mixes the music so well, it is uncanny. Another of my favorite tracks is Rupa Tujhe Deva The longer the track the better (it gives the music time to grow), that's why Govinda is also ultra nice, especially towards the end, the complexity of the instruments being played, is such that I would love to see such music being perfomed live, it would be staggering to see the virtuosity displayed by the musicians in person. Highly recommended, to add to ones collection of international music, In fact I will go listen to it right now."