Hamsa Lila: Gathering One.


In the Pocket; www.inthepocketproduction.com.

Rich in polyethnic percussion and complex rhythmic grooves, this global trance music draws listeners into the creation of new multicultural, mostly dance-based rituals. In Northern California's Hamsa Lila—the name translates approximately from the Sanskrit as "the cosmic play of the divine breath"—eight musicians come together with a variety of traditional and modern instruments, from guimbri (the lute of the Jajouka people), kora (West African harp), and gangan (Nigerian talking drum) to guitar, flute, saxophone, organ, and drum kit. On 11 tracks, Hamsa Lila draws inspiration from the cosmologies of the Gnawan and Yoruban peoples of Africa, Buddhist mantras, African proverbs, and even T.S. Eliot and Frank Lloyd Wright (whose quote "I believe in God, only I spell it N-a-t-u-r-e" is cited in the liner notes). Singing in a variety of languages, including English on the politically charged one-world affirmation "Full Moon Flow," vocalists Sarita Pockell, Nikila Badua, M.J. Greenmountain, Vir McCoy, Brett Jacobson, and Andrea Vecchione weave beguiling multilayered chants through an airy and sometimes bristling acoustic-electric mix that pulsates at the bottom end like a rock band. For a group fashioned at least in part to move and mesmerize audiences at jam band concerts, Hamsa Lila beautifully embodies its African, Indian, and Caribbean influences on a recording that pleases the head as much as it moves the body.

Derk Richardson is a longtime YJ contributor who also writes about popular culture for
SFGate (www.sfgate.com), Acoustic Guitar magazine, and other publications.