(Buying the albums sampled on “Picnic”).
This LP is one best listened to late at night, in the dark. It is unique in a way no other record really is, mainly because Third Ear Band never subsequently equalled it, and there are no bands truly comparable with them. Harking back to the comments referred to in my previous post, the tracks are indeed as alike or unalike as trees, because there are lots of different trees. The grass and crickets analogies are less accurate.
Track 1 on Side 1 is “Mosaic”, a perfect introduction to the music on the record. It is an undemanding, melodic, meandering piece, lasting 6.25 minutes, showing off the talents of these remarkable musicians, and the hypnotic effect of the percussion.
Track 2, “Ghetto Raga”, is a work of sheer unadulterated brilliance, and in my view the best thing the group ever did. At 10.26, it is the longest track on the album, and is the only one to be specifically dedicated in the notes [see “Alchemy (3)]. It starts off with a percussionless upper register sweet trilling, much reminiscent of Peer Gynt and Swiss mountain tops. However, there is a moment of utter ecstasy about 2 minutes into the tune, when the violin does a slide 5 semitone chord change as the tabla comes in. As far as I am concerned, this is not merely rare, it is the only moment when “a vast door seems to open, band and audience appear to float in a new dimension…” [see “Alchemy” (4)]. The piece continues in the light of that revelation with a myriad of enchanting modulations woven around the tabla. A masterpiece.