All One by Krishna Das
Krishna Das has never tried to conceal his rock 'n' roll heart. So it's not surprising that one of America's foremost practitioners of kirtan (devotional chanting) has teamed up with a cast of rock musicians and producers, including Steely Dan's Walter Becker, on All One. As the title suggests, the entire CD is made up of a single mantra ("Hare Krishna/Hare Rama") performed in an increasingly unexpected succession of styles. In the liner notes, Krishna Das recalls his guru's teaching: We are all "one heart, the heart of God, of love, of the universe...All One." Apparently he learned the lesson.
The first of the disc's four sections introduces just a hint of acoustic guitar woven into the primordial Ganges drone of harmonium, tablas, esraj, bansuri flute, and K.D.'s sonorous baritone voice. Then the guitars grow more vigorous, and electric, as the next two sections unfold. A drum kit kicks in, manned by Def Leppard's Rick Allen. We're soon enmeshed in a full-on rock groove, still firmly rooted in the call-and-response heart dialogue between K.D. and friends. Jumping into the jive territory of a South African township, the final section's party vibe wins the day. Kirtan is ultimately a celebration-a spiraling funnel of bliss energy that enfolds all. K.D. knows that devotion is the biggest party in the universe.
Running time: 53 minutes