O Earthly Gods
(EarthTone, 1998)

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. I like "weird" music. I don't listen to the radio (except for public radio, no plug intended) simply because it all sounds the same to me. I go for the eclectic music, the kind that wriggles under my skin, causes my hair to stand on end, inspires bad poetry and scares the cats.

Govinda fits that description (although I haven't tried it out on the cats yet). Don't get me wrong -- it's wonderful music! Govinda is dark and seductive, with very cool ambience and groove rhythms mixed with gypsy violin and guitar, inspired by the musical styles of Spain, India, Italy and Ireland. The musician behind Govinda is Shane O'Madden, based out of Austin, Texas.

"Diva Dora My Grandma" is one of my favorite tracks. Hauntingly beautiful, with lush violin and guitar, O'Madden has taken samples of his grandmother reflecting on her life two years before she passed on and woven them into his music. I wept the first time I heard it.

"Truth About Humans" is almost unsettling; the vocals are straight from India, with more gypsy violin, drum tracks and an odd koto-like sound dancing around the melody. We head a few thousands miles north on "Celtica," where Govinda combines a traditional-sounding reel with a heavy beat; "Sweetly We Touched" is pure erotica, invoking the images of candles, silks and, well, you get the idea. Alive is just that -- joyous, a celebration of spirit.

Govinda's music is dark, but not overly so. This is music for dark nights, for passion, for looking inside and embracing what you find. This is the kind of music that can transform our mundane lives into something a little more exotic, if only for a short while. And that's something we all need.

[ by Crystal Kocher ]

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