Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
Mickey Hart has made a name for himself beyond his percussive presence in the Grateful Dead with a series of worldbeat styled records over the past 30 years. This disc is the start of his headfirst dive into the world of world percussion. Working with tabla player Zakir Hussain, Hart sets out to theoretically pound out some Indian rhythms, but with the wide range of percussion present, we get more of an enjoyable jungle of percussive sound.
Most of the tracks here are strictly percussion instrumentals, with vibraphone guiding the melody along. "Sweet Sixteen" opens the album with a dense wall of organic percussion. Even if the melody is not the best, the track never fails to be interesting. Better are the extended tracks "Magnificent Sevens" and "Tal Mala," both of which include more Indian-like patterns, and really give the drum company some nice room to stretch out and do their thing.
For the committed Deadhead, Jerry Garcia shows up to provide some signature guitar runs to "Happiness Is Drumming" and "Razooli." I suppose it was nice of him to contribute, his name being much more of a household name at the time than Hart's, but I personally prefer the percussion only aesthetic of the other tracks.
Although the Dead connections run rampant, Diga Rhythm Band is a very different creature. It certainly caters to the 'hippy drum circle' crowd, but these are top percussionists at the top of their game, and makes this much more essential listening than the odd smelling fellows in the city park. I'd really put this more in the exotica ballpark along with Martin Denny. This makes for a perfect island sunset album, perhaps with a Tequila Sunrise in hand.
Diga Rhythm Band - 1976 - Diga