Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
Paul Horn was pretty much a second-tier jazz flautist throughout the 50's and most of the 60's. Somewhere around 1968, he seems to have started searching for some kind of enlightenment and found his calling recording ethereal music which is an important precursor to new age and ambient music, yet also manages to feel fresh today.
This album was recorded on a tape recorder that Horn apparently snuck into the Taj Mahal. Now, on the surface this seems to shoehorn this album into the realm of non-produced home recordings, but the recording location provides a trump card. Although we only hear Horn's flute and the Hindi chanting of a guard who just happened to be around, the acoustics of the Taj Mahal are something else entirely. Throughout the album, the simple instrumentation comes under the effect of a 28 second delay, which manages to produce a wide range of overtones and harmonics. This means that we sort of get a third instrument, which is a magical reverberation that even the best modern studio cannot compete with.
The acoustics alone aren't necessarily going to make this one a classic, but Horn's playing does. forsaking the hard bop jazz sound that he'd been working with on albums past, the flute here is extremely naturalistic and restrained. The sound of the echoing flute fades into the chanting seamlessly. The two artists rarely appear in tandem, but the overtones perfectly glue the performances together.
This is an amazing meditation-centered album. It's certainly a beautiful one which far transcends the new age tag that I often consider a minus. This is one of those albums that while it's playing becomes part of your being. Very highly recommended.