Al Gromer Khan is a German-born author, sitar player and award-winning composer who’s released a number of albums over the years, which span ambient, electronica and world fusion styles of music. Released on the Rasa Music label, “Chakra Noir” is essentially an ambient recording comprised of twelve compositions, which incorporate both Indian sitar and exotic percussion, as these elements are woven among intriguing electronic textures to create an overall freeform soundscape of understated elegance.

“A Simple World with Flowers” opens with muted and swathing percussion, as gentle sitar notes float among a metamorphosing and minimal soundscape of earthily warm layers, breezy “ahhs” and subtle textures. Setting the mood for the rest of the album, the compositions possess a characteristically ‘low-fi’ nature, which lend themselves to understated melodies of gently evolving aural patterns. Continuing in this mode is “Degrees of Tenderness”, as it moves into drier territory with its twangy sitar, whistling effects and swishing beat that seem to collectively imbue the piece with a desert-like atmosphere. “Shedding Light” follows next with its muted rhythms, spacious notes and gently repeating guitar loop amidst beguiling suspended chords. One of my favorite pieces on the album, it perfectly exemplifies the often haunting and versatile backdrops that easily lend themselves to any number of visual and environmental interpretations. The title track, “Chakra Noir”, is another strong highlight that includes both sitar and female vocal snippets over a clicking, muffled beat. Here, delicate sparkling timbres provide a hazy ethereal quality to a composition that seems to move throughout the dimly-lit halls of some mysterious chamber. “Rose of All My Days” is another enchanting piece defined by shadowy tonal mists and an understated rhythm, which eventually concludes with gentle and dreamy sitar.

Perhaps what makes “Chakra Noir” most curiously appealing is the album’s oddly-timed melodic and rhythmic signatures. Al Gromer Khan seems to have taken a rather improvisational approach in crafting these compositions, generally forgoing overtly predictable melodies in favor of more fluid and subtle sound structures. Vaporous tones evolve into variably ambiguous forms throughout their echoing passages, which can perhaps be best likened to that of watching passing clouds as they morph with continuity into variously familiar shapes. Especially well-suited for late-night listening, “Chakra Noir” is an alluring and innovative album that will likely find most appeal among fans of ambient and minimal music as well as experimental world fusion! ~Candice Michelle

Links & Purchase: Amazon, CDBaby, iTunesAl Gromer Khan

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