STAGES (Mooncow Records)
This is the live album taken from two main shows. The first show catches Rudra (Ralph) with
Will Strehler on guitar at London’s Astoria (1992) and Wintherthur (1993). The second brings us forward a year to a much more ambient sounding solo show at Rheinfeld Casino, Switzerland. To my own personal taste, the second show is the classic one, it has a quality of gentleness and complexity that is entrancing.
Part One: Astoria London/Winterthur
With a “hello!” the album brings us to
“Fools Paradise”. The sound quality of these first songs is not as rich as the second part of the album. Still a good track. But I think the best of the songs in this first part is a good version of “The Unconscious Life” that sounds like a sea-shanty sung by a space rocket scientist and has some good Will Strehler. Or maybe “Time and Distance”, which this time around has morphed into a Hawkwindesque epic. But as with most of Rudra’s music, dynamics and pacing are to the fore, and there is a great guitar playing from Will on this track.
Part Two: Rheinfelden Casino, Switzerland 1994
This was some gig, or collection of tracks from different shows. It’s like being flung into the cosmos with a rush of samples, strange bleeps and washes of sounds, right from the beginning. Completely fascinating and, as far as I am concerned, exactly the kind of music that should be played from every rooftop. Most of the tracks are from
RITE OF PASSAGE but the way they are sewn together seamlessly is a fascinating process.
“Tune In”, the introduction, is one of the very best things Rudra has done. It sounds as fresh as the day it was laid down.
Hard to top the intro, but
“Green”, with a wash of birdsong, Rudra sings about the colour of green and the duties we have to protect the environment. His voice is very well supported and treated in the mix, it sounds full and appealing. The track also shows Rudra’s mastery of programming as layer on layer of sound is added..
The next tracks comprise
Rudra’s “greatest hits”, including excellent versions of “Fools Paradise” and “Rite of Passage” – again, Rudra is in good voice. “Time and Distance “ lopes along with a light feel to it, sort of like a spiritual Jean Michel Jarre and it is a good version. It’s the one track where Rudra’s voice sound uncannily like someone, and I’m trying to think who it is. Whatever, it sounds good. “This is flight 107 to Melbourne Australia” begins “The Good Times” , an uncanny foretaste of his later link with Shiva Jones. This is a subversive take on the aboriginal plight. The album ends with “I Believe” , a Rudra epic love song – either to God or to a loving partner.

Reviewed by Professor Cornelius