Mandragora Records
P.O. Box 219
Greenfield, MA 01302
Sitar Vol.2
Erik Amlee

45 min. CDR

1. Baptized in Lotus Wine
2. Transcendental Crossbow
3. Crouching Lioness of Night [mp3]
4. Western Sun

Second volume of neo-raga exotica featuring three live solo improvisations from July 2005 and a mega-trip meta-alap recorded as a special introduction. All tracks were completely created and improvised in the moment. Whereas classical raga uses a complex tradition to set mood, scale, and melodic structure, Amlee, as an unschooled Western adept, approaches it from the other side, tuning in to the unique time, place and emotion of the performance, allowing the music to flow outward and sing its own song. Deeply zoned cosmic drone and tone.


Foxy Digitalis Online 6/27/06
"From my brief encounters with the instrument, the sitar is one of the most difficult to play well. It's one of the most mesmerizing instruments in the world for sure, but it takes a special talent to weave magic with its sympathetic strings. Enter Northampton, Mass resident Erik Amlee. Not only does he perform in the excellent group, Paradise Camp 23 and run the wonderful Mandragora imprint, he also makes solo sitar records. Now there's a daunting task.

"Sitar Vol. 2" doesn't disappoint. I had no idea what to expect, but from the hypnotic, haunting opening notes of "Baptized in Lotus Wine," Amlee's skill is apparent. This piece delicately unfolds like a linear dream about the sun's daily movement in the sky. With little more than a hint of delay to push the movement along, Amlee's playing is like a slow waltz at the moment the last rays of dusk are extinguished. It is simple, beautiful, and timeless.

The longest piece here is the 18+ minute "Transcendental Crossbow." The meditative undercurrents are out in full force here. It's as if each note is placed in a perfect row. There's a method to the madness that I can't quite place my finger on, but it works wonderfully. As it moves through the valleys and peaks of the imaginary, tree-lined hillside, you realize that the song has completely sucked you in.

The most memorable piece, though, is the third track, "Crouching Lioness of Night." This is simply magical. It's an Indian flavored opiate for the masses. Over it's 12 minutes, "Crouching Lioness" takes you on a trek through the cosmos before dropping you headfirst onto a shimmering, diamond-encrusted pyramid. This is pure psychedelia, here to melt your skull and free your mind. I'm completely floored by this track.

Erik Amlee might not be a sitar master in the traditional sense, but he is certainly a fantastic songwriter with the instrument. "Sitar Vol. 2" is an excellent presentation of someone trying out new ideas and new methods and absolutely succeeding. It is on CD-Rs like this where innovations come from. You don't want to miss this one."8/10 -- Brad Rose

aquarius records new arrivals list #237
"We've been trying to list these Amlee discs for ages but we can never seem to keep enough in stock. Everytime we play them in the store, someone, sometimes several someones, always buys 'em. That's usually the truest barmoeter for how good a record is. And these discs are soooo good. Both of these discs feature Erik Amlee on sitar, the fact that Amlee is not a trained sitar player is part of what makes these discs so cool. The other being the totally bad ass drone and buzz of the sitar. We're beginning to think the sitar is the coolest instrument there is. It's like a guitar, but with way more buzzing and vibrating and droning. We can totally picture the heaviest metal band in the world with no guitars, just with electrified, amplified sitars. That's the same metal band that would have to have a Tuvan throat singer on lead vocals, but we digress. These lengthy improvisations are dense with buzzing overtones, haunting melodies, still very Eastern, as that's the nature of the instrument and its tuning, but also kind of spacey and blissed out, druggy and psychedelic. The whole thing is thick and soft and swoonsome, longform subtly shifting ragas, drowsy and fuzzy, all sepia toned and sun baked, rife with dizzyingly buzzy melodies and simple subtle percussion, and occasionaly electronic glitchery, but not so it's noticable, just adding more texture. And the recording is super casual and a bit lo-fi, you can hear shuffling feet, instrument buzz, every little nuance is just sort of captured and woven into the blurry dreamy sweetly torpid soundscape. So totally captivating. These records make the perfect late night listening, all thick and drifty and suffused with a soft rich glow that just sort of washes over you. Both volumes are equally amazing, and they're cheap too so there's no reason not to pick up the set!"

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