Music Reviews

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Artist: Madhavi Devi (@)
Title: The Truth of Being
Format: CD + Download
Label: Spotted Peccary Music (@)
Rated: *****
Madhavi Devi is electronic musician, harpist, and meditative sound painter Cheryl Gallagher from the Austin, Texas area. Madhavi Devi has had a few collaborative releases prior to this first solo outing on the Spotted Peccary label, but I haven't heard them. On 'The Truth of Being' Madhavi Devi employs a blend of digital, analog, modular and software synthesizers, concert grand and electric harps, viola, ambient guitar, Tibetan bowls. Howard Givens (ambient electric guitar, modular synthesizers, effects) and Stephanie Britten Phillips (viola) are special guests on this album but they never overshadow Gallagher's work. On 'The Truth of Being' Madhavi Devi's ambient is of a soothing melodic sort without ever getting too caught up in the melody. It is richly textured and world music influenced without leaning too much in one ethnic direction or another. Over the six tracks on the album that's just a few minutes under an hour (a couple of the lengthier tracks are well over 10 minutes each), Madhavi Devi takes the listener on an exotic, yet familiar journey that can also serve as tranquil meditation. Rhythm is sparse and somewhat downplayed yet still present on a few tracks. Most of the melodic input is abstract which is fine by me. (Too often good ambient can be ruined by melodic themes that come across as too romantic or cloying.) The one thing I really like about this album is its varying shades; different tones of light and dark that always seem to be resolved perfectly. While sometimes I was reminded of Constance Demby and Michael Stearns, Madhavi Devi's music has a vibe of its own not owing to any other particular sonic artist or work. Gallagher also designed and painted the artwork for the tri-fold CD slipcase, impressing that she's the total package. While 'The Truth of Being' isn't a revolutionary work in the ambient genre, it is a very solid one with a high degree of replayability.



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