Alice Coltrane - Kirtan: Turiya Sings (Vinyl)

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'Kirtan: Turiya Sings' features Alice Coltrane at peak spirituality and is presented in this arrangement for the first time in any format. 'Turyia Sings' was originally released in 1982 on cassette as a collection of devotional songs including vocals, organ, strings, and synthesizers available only at Alice's Sai Anantam Ashram. 'Kirtan: Turiya Sings' features a sparser arrangement of organ and chanting, produced by Ravi Coltrane. This is intentional, devotional music created with the purpose of connecting to a higher power. The pared back arrangements on this release are enchantingly haunting and encourage the listener to reach a meditative headspace so as to channel connectiveness to a greater spirit. The perfect introduction to Alice Coltrane for listeners interested in music for mediation and personal wellness.


Kirtan: Turiya Sings is drawn from the same source as the 1982 cassette Turiya Sings, but is a very different affair. Here the concentration is entirely on solo songs, stripped of all the decoration – the strings and synthesisers – from their original incarnations, leaving just Alice’s voice and her Wurlitzer organ. Something like the opening Jagadishwar benefits greatly from the removal of the trimmings. It might be blasphemous to say so but the result is curiously reminiscent of hearing Nico performing the material from The Marble Index and Desertshore in concert, the clarity and directness of her voice and harmonium revealed in the absence of John Cale’s arrangements.

Funnily enough, the comparison is not entirely inappropriate, even if the artistic intentions were wholly different. Alice’s singing voice is also a deep contralto, strong and sure, notable for an absence of inflection, although never strident. Similarly, the organ is required to do no more than play sustained chords with a modest, rustic, harmonium-like tone. The songs are slow-paced and even in cadence, their repetitive melodies and simple harmonies generally held within such tightly defined limits that the slightest variation – as in the modest melodic wandering of Krishna Krishna – comes almost as a shock.

The listener is drawn into a world of solitary devotion, very unlike the infectious choral chanting, banging and rattling on display in the Luaka Bop album (and also familiar from the chants of the followers of Krishna who once operated in London under George Harrison’s patronage). Any spiritual ecstasy on offer here appears to be of a more private kind, although no doubt offering a glimpse of the divine to believers.

On other listeners, particularly those unfamiliar with Sanskrit and either ignorant or dismissive of the belief system of which these songs are an expression, its effects will be less certain. But the longer you listen, the more you’re drawn in and the less aesthetically confining the music’s self-imposed restraints seem. What’s clear to sympathetic listeners is the direct emotional link between John Coltrane’s pioneering Spiritual of 1961 and the sound of his wife’s songs released 60 years later: very different means, same search.

By: Hirsute

A1 Jagadishwar
A2 Jai Ramachandra
A3 Krishna Krishna
B1 Rama Katha
B2 Yamuna Tira Vihari
C1 Charanam
C2 Govinda Hari
D1 Hara Siva
D2 Pranadhana

rec. June 23, 1981
mixed/mastered March 2021

Comes with 16-page 10"x10" booklet containing lyrics and liner notes.
Housed in gatefold sleeve.
Made in Germany.