By Josef Woodard | Published March 2022
On bassist-guitarist Jimi Durso’s Border Of Hiranyaloka, East meets West in the by-now time-honored fusion tradition of Indo-jazz, but with a twist. Durso’s primary instrument of choice here is the distinctly Western tool of the double bass, which serves as both a lead voice and a low grounding force in rootsier context of impressive tabla and sitar work by Kinnar Seen on nine tracks coated by a gently swirling harmonic haze of tanpura drones.
Aficionados of the venerable North Indian Hindustani music may take exception to the altered perspective of this East-West axis, a rift touched on in The Disciple, Chaitanya Tamhane’s powerful recent film about the Hindustani music world. But Durso wins points of uniqueness for his unorthodox concept.
Durso sometimes deploys another non-Indian instrument, the African kalimba, to intriguing ends on the pleasing “Raag Bhairav Alaap.”
Sonorities and idiomatic attitudes get fuzzier, and raggedy, when he moves over to a harsh distortion-flecked electric guitar and fretless electric bass. On “Raag Kirvani Alaap,” Durso takes to slide guitar, a glissando-fluid sound utilized in Hindustani music by such Mohan Veena instrumentalists as V.M. Bhatt. On “Ti Mon Bo,” Durso’s arco bass melodies answer phrases laid out on sitar.
The album closes with the relatively extended, sweetly mournful dirge of “Mishra Bhairavi Sultaat,” his languid arco lines and melodic fragments in accord with Seen’s slow-brew tabla pulse. It’s a graceful and contemplative exit strategy on an album of bold objectives.
Border Of Hiranyaloka: Raag Bilavi Jhaptaal; Raag Bhairav Alaap; Raag Abhogi Rupaktaal; Raag Kirvani Alaap; Raag Kirvani Ektaal; Raag Marva Rudrataal; Ti Mon Bo; Raag Khamaaj Dhun; Mishra Bhairavi Sultaal. (52:32)
Personnel: Jimi Durso, bass, guitar, kalimba; Kinnar Seen, tabla, sitar; Robyn Bellospirito, tanpura; Narindra Gosine, tabla (8).