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(50:13; Purple Pyramid Records)
Electric violinist and vocalist Lakshminarayana Shankar, professionally known as L. Shankar, has collaborated with musicians as diverse as Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and here is back with his latest solo album. The album features a host of guests, including Jonathan Davis (Korn), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Norwood Fisher (Fishbone), Scott Page (Supertramp), Tony Levin (with whom he worked for Peter Gabriel) and Chester Thompson (Genesis) among others. Obviously, there are some very good performances on the album, some strong songs and great hooks, but although I find it enjoyable and fine for pleasant background, I have a real problem with the production. Here we have an album where all the vocals have gone through autotune, and everything has been mixed within an inch of its life. This means all the vitality and essence of the music has been sublimated and made into oatmeal, with just the odd piece of fruit to liven it up. The frustrating thing is that it is obvious that behind this mass of production and studio trickery there is a very good album indeed, but there is not enough clarity, definition, or separation. I am sure there will be many who will say this is just modern production and that I am an old man behind the times, and I do understand that position – to have been writing about music for more than 30 years means I am obviously not as young as I was when I started on this journey – but to me this has now become a very good album to play in the background as opposed to being listened to intently, and that is a real shame. Music needs room to breathe, but this is smothered, and while it may appeal to many it is not for me.
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