From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
They call it "Raga Rock". Not a genre I'm familiar with but when the mystical sounds of SHIVA SHAKTI start to fill your ears and penetrate your mind and body, genres and labels become insignificant. I call it "Spiritual Groove-Laden Psychedelia". I had heard a pre-release of this album last year when I first met Shiva (Phil) Jones on one of his stops in Columbus, Ohio with his traveling Sound Vibrational Therapy workshop (see AI #20). And in honor of this wonderful set of music finally seeing proper release (with a slightly expanded lineup of songs) I put on the headphones for a fresh listen and writeup.
Shiva Shakti is the duo of Shiva Jones on vocals and Rudra (Ralph) Beauvert on keyboards, with guests on guitars, synths, drums and backing vocals. If the name Shiva Jones sounds familiar then congratulations... this is the same Shiva Jones who fronted the 70's band Quintessence. The CD consists of ten tracks, five of which are reworkings of old Quintessence songs with additional sections by Shiva and Rudra, and five new compositions.
Among the Quintessence songs is "Notting Hill Gate", which was apparently a popular Quintessence tune. A cool groove and bubbly alien synths get the body swaying as Shiva lays down some tasty soulful vocals. "The Seer" has a potent spiritual feel with Indian influences and lush keyboards that give the music a mystical flavor. And the Do The Shiva Dance segment is so uplifting it puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. "Brahman" is similarly powerful and includes a gorgeous blend of majestic symphonics and swirling space synths. With "High On Mt. Kailash" we start to get more overtly into trippy Eastern flavored psychedelia. Close your eyes and you'll see images of the Taj Mahal and hordes of belly dancers as you lay back on a bed of pillows, hookah in hand. Rudra does an excellent job of creating spacey synth bits á la the Ozrics that add a welcome alien twist to the atmosphere. And "Sea Of Immortality" is another inspiring song with a cool mix of modern electro dance and psychedelia with bits of Ozric Tentacles.
"More Than Meets The Eye" is the first of the new songs and is a techno jazz lounge in space tune with a quirky electro sound, a robotic dance groove, deeeeeeep bass riffs, and plenty of fun freaky electronics. Dig that alien scat singing from Shiva. As the title suggests, "Parvati Devi" has strong Indian influences. Anyone who has seen any Bollywood films know you can't escape the songs, and this sounds like a more psychedelic version of Indian pop music. "Orango Tango" is the most purely Rock oriented song of the set with a cool tribal Bluesy feel. But my favorites tracks are "Dark Brother" and "Shiva Shakti". "Dark Brother" opens with trippy Indian ragas and cosmic drones. But Rudra quickly adds dancey Ozrics styled electro space grooves while Shiva does his Pied Piper of Bombay chant. A great mixture of space dance, Eastern influenced psych and Indian pop, that transitions through multiple themes across it's nine minute length. And "Shiva Shakti" is an outstanding combination of virtually everything that makes this such an excellent album. Spiritual... Psychedelic... Inspiring... Toe-Tapping... and Cosmically Spaced.
In summary, I can easily see these guys tapping into a number of different scenes. The songs, music and recording are top notch, and there's plenty to appeal to fans of all forms of psychedelia and electro dance music.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz