Alice Coltrane: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (5 stars)

Alice Coltrane -- The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda

Indian-gospel fusion in long-awaited release of private devotional music

Ten years after her death, the world is starting to catch up with Alice Coltrane. In the late 1970s Coltrane withdrew from the music world to become a spiritual leader, taking on the name Turiyasangitananda ('the transcendental lord's highest song of bliss'). But she continued to make music, releasing four private press cassettes of Hindu devotional music between 1982 and 1995. With this compilation, that music is finally enjoying a wider release.

The cuts gathered here reflect Coltrane's inclusive vision of spirituality, as she infuses traditional Hindu bhajans (hymns) with the gospel music of her Detroit childhood. This is extraordinary stuff, with vocalists chanting over organ drones and huge waves of synth that recall the mind-bending string arrangements of 1972's World Galaxy. Coltrane's husky alto voice is gorgeous: when she accompanies herself on harp on the sublime 'Er Ra' there won't be a dry eye in the house.

Out now on Luaka Bop

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