Music is the soundtrack to our lives. And on Christmas Day 2012, four days after the world was supposed to end, GuysNation columnist Bryan Lienesch was given the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. As he flipped through it, an idea dawned on him right then and there: he would attempt to knock all 1,001 albums off his list. Not just before he dies, but as fast as life would allow.

This is the Bucket Beats List.

Shivkumar Sharma

As this article series returned from its unintentional hiatus on somewhat of a random note with Robert Wyatt’s ‘Rock Bottom’, the Bucket Beats List kicks off 2014 much in the same fashion.

Call Of The Valley, a compilation of purely instrumental songs put together by Sharma, Kabra, and Chaurasia, is such a niche recording that the original version is very hard to find even on CD. iTunes only carries a partial digital album in which the track are jumbled up and a brand new, unopened CD of the “right” album will run you about 50 bucks (or over 3,000 Indian Rupees)!

So the real question becomes, through all of this, is ‘Call Of The Valley’ deserving? Well, while the actual value will forever remain in the eye of the beholder, it is definitely not bad. Nor is it the worst album we’ve listened to so far.

call of the valleyWhat will turn average music fans off, however, is how different is. Or, at least, how different it is to the naked ear. You see, the tracks, while very much classical Indian music, were created with the use of both flute and acoustic guitar; sounds not uncommon in the western hemisphere.

The end result is an album that feels bilingual in nature, almost like the Rosetta Stone to bridging traditional Indian and Western culture. While some tracks are admittedly forgettable — the opening Ahir Bhairav/Nat Bhairav that rambles on for over 12 minutes comes to mind — others like Rag Des are so sweet and harmonious that it feels as though the songs itself, bereft of any vocals, is still managing to sing to you. Even for someone not accustomed nor familiar with traditional Indian music, it’s quite enjoyable.

And through it’s, um, bilingualism, you here subtle tones of several classic Western bands. Obviously, throughout the 40-minute record, there is a lot of ‘Grateful Dead’ overtones, as both artists have most likely been played in many a room filled with black light posters, but there are others. I, personally, get quite a bit of Beatles, a little Rolling Stones, and, surprisingly, a modest amount of Velvet Underground.

Fitting, since the double-page opening it shares its entry in the book with is the famous ‘White Light/White Heat’.

The album is comprised of only five recordings (though the CD will give you three extra), so once again, as with the aforementioned ‘Rock Bottom’, there’s not enough here to work with to figure out the favorite and least favorite tracks.

So instead, we’ll do what Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia would like us to do: judge ‘Call Of The Valley’ wholly as a body of work. And, in that context, it’s probably worth a listen. Cannabis optional.

Do you really need to listen to this album before you die?
There are worse ways you could spend a little over half an hour.