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Issue 1101

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Review

Ragawerk: Ragawerk

Raga1

9

7.8

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UK release date 26.08.2022

Ragawerk is a new outfit formed by two Frankfurt musicians , guitarist Max Clouth and drummer Martin Standke. It contains excellent east meets west type musicianship and interplay over some really dope beats take for instance the spellbinding opener, "Ab Yeh Kya?" A heavy funked up raga bolstered by brilliant cross stick work and the crystalline vocals of Varijashree Venugopal are a real treat adding sonic purity. In addition to her, there are four other Indian guest artists featured on the track: Percussionists Udhai Mazumdar and Shivaraj Natraj, violinist Manas Kumar and sitarist Mehtab Ali Niazi. These musicians weave their magic setting up their mission statement perfectly.

“ I Promise “ sees guitarist Max Clouth really stretch out and exercise his considerable jazz chops - reminds me of ECM and John Abercrombie his tone is warm and inviting as is the track that builds sweetly , the subtle arpeggiated synth chimes sweetly against Clouth’s serpentine soloing , Bill Frisell also comes to mind - these guys know explicitly how to set a mood. The loose funky feel of the drums is a wonder to behold too.

Clouth switches to acoustic on this atmospheric 6/8 ballad type that builds into a beautiful rhapsodic melody again backed perfectly by the cross stick magic of his drumming partner and Kibuki’s sensitive synth burblings. It’s a rather magical and cinematic piece beautifully played and executed. A veritable tour de force. There is a danger here that they could edge towards pleasantly easygoing global mood music, fortunately this is not the case.

Up next an electronic shuffle in the guise of ‘ Mangal’ lead by vocalist, Asha Puthli, who adds a delicate and tender performance to proceedings before some Indian type bluesy sounds kick in with the fluid sounding and poptastic ‘Nature Of Self’ . ‘The Shore’ sees the band rock out a bit and the ‘Nadia’ Beck influence kicks in on Clouth’s exquisite slide guitar playing. This guy exudes taste.

Ragawerk really seduce you into their secret arcane world they are full of enticement and their sonic palette is wide and extremely colourful. A refreshing and in parts, deeply meditive and soulfully edifying to say the very least.

Other highlights include the pensive , spaghetti western vibe of ‘Overlays’ that morphs perfectly into the jittery ‘Das Mosul’. Ragawerk remind me of another great duo The mighty Propellerheads, especially the drum grooves. Bang On ! Ragawerk have excelled themselves with this real gem of a debut.
Words Emrys Baird

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