They may hail from California’s Sacramento, but instrumental trio Swimming in Bengal play an intoxicating brand of Middle Eastern inspired freely improvised drone. Meditative percussive rhythms played on the traditional tabla are accompanied by an Eastern droning wail, sounding like a sitar, but actually emanating from a specially set up guitar. Interchange between a deep double bass hum and bursts from the freely improvised saxophone, and other more traditional wind instruments complete the sound, which is as meditatively hypnotic as it is a full on improv freakout.
Eastern Melodies and rhythms bring to mind the hazy smell of incense for the slower trance inducing parts with the droning guitar wail and pulsing rhythms, yet at the same time it remains vibrant and energetic with the anything goes free-form nature of the performance. The best piece here is Shattered, with it’s soft beginning of slowly echoing cathartic drones, while slow saxophone melodies and occasional bursts of percussion create a ruminative atmosphere. Slowly building up the wall of sound over seventeen minutes it goes from soft, hazy and reflective to a full on trippy improvised freakout fuelled by the crazy saxophone playing. Slow Burn has more of a slower bassy groove without giving up on the improvisation, but the hypnotic percussion lets you easily drift away.
A pervading Eastern atmosphere with those cathartic eastern drones, trance like melodies and bursts of improv genius make this one hell of a weird album, but a really great one. Stream it on bandcamp, and buy the mp3 for only $3.