Al Gromer Khan: Far Go

khan_farFar Go is subtitled “Raga and Ambient Studies,” and Al Gromer Khan absolutely delivers a hearty batch of both across a dozen engaging tracks. Exotic world flavors and infectious beats make up one side, deep meditative drifts provide the other, and more often than not they meld in a deliciously peaceful coexistence. Khan tends to give them equal space, punctuating passages of warmly flowing pads with the crisp, bright twang of the sitar, the sharp rap of clay pots and tabla, and the pleasant, bending gulp of drums. Tracks such as “Procession for Vilyat Khan” and “Black Raga” are great examples; both are slow, seductive dances lead largely by percussion. As the background fills with misty washes, Khan’s sitar curls through them with serpentine grace. Its sound is deliciously bright and solid, a dancer glimpsed through a lotus-leaf haze. “Gambhira (The Inscrutable)” carries a similar feel but wraps it in a gauze of shadow. The drums are heavier, almost tribal, and the tone is mysterious, right down to its back-out-of-the-room fade.  To take in the more ambient side, head for the blend of “Urbanicum (excerpt)” and “A Strange Kind of Peace.” The first is the darker of the two, a slightly shifting drone with a nice low end. It uses its scant three-minute run to lull you into a relaxed state, then hands you over to the warm, dreamy flows of the other. Light chime tones punctuate the sound. I would loop this track for meditation purposes; it’s pretty much perfect. After spending the better part of an hour chilling you out, Khan returns you to the surface with the funky, strolling (no pun intended) beat of “I Walk Everywhere.” The deep sound of a stand-up bass completes the rhythm section, and Khan grooves over it on sitar. A nice close to a very good release. Far Go is the kind of disc you can set playing quietly in the background and it will grab your attention where you need it to; for the rest of the time it’s content to soften your space and improve your mood. A more attentive listen reveals the practiced complexity of Khan’s stylings and the way he weaves his sounds together. This is definitely one that deserves a listen.

Available from the artist’s web site.

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