insert: inside

it is in the middle of the night. the appartment is illuminated only by the glow of the laptop and the light of the turntable. opening the window icy air streams in, sobering up the thoughts. the city lays still in the sharp cold, even the yellow streetlights seem to give this night a light that does not move. there is hardly any sound. a car passes by – its movement makes the stillness even more apparent. and the sound of the engine is quickly gone. but very softly, over the crackling of the vinyl, there is sound. a flute. a man, singing. sounds that come from a different time. and from a different space.

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i looked at this record a couple of times at my favourite second hand-records dealer. i really like the front cover. then unfolding the cover there is the taj mahal and a couple of pics with different people and in the middle a man with a flute on the inside, sending somehow a different message then the front cover. although i buy quite often records just by the cover (to see if my visual taste matches my taste in music, and also because i am always interested in hearing new sounds), i was unsure about this record. it just smelled of… hm …new age. here i have to add that i have this problem with new age – when it describes a certain spiritual attitude. and it becomes downright insulting for describing music. hey, i am tending to my prejudices, too…

but then the cover won and i bought the record. at home listening to it i found out that it is actually beautiful music. yeah, silly me…

i am talking about paul horn‘s inside. doing some research i found out that paul horn is a classically trained jazz musician who collaborated with a lot of people and made tons of record under his own name as well as a studio musician. he seems to be well known for people into jazz (which i am obviously not really) and yes, he is also known as “the daddy of new age-music”. this especially for his inside-recordings, done at several interesting places: the taj mahal, the pyramids, cathedrals etc., as well as seemingly for his later work. i read somewhere he got into transcendental meditation in the 1970’s – if this justifies in any way giving him the label new age – i doubt it. but let’s not get polemic in that matter.

so the record inside (sometimes also called inside the taj mahal) is the first in a series. it is indeed recorded inside the taj mahal, and this on april 25th, 1968 (the wikipedia entry states that he smuggled his recorder into the taj – which is obviously wrong). me being unsure at the record store if i would like some recording of a flute player going in 1968 to india did not take into account three things: first, paul horn is a very good musician. second, there is not only flute on it. there is also a man singing – on the cover of the record there is no indication who is singing, according to some sources on the net it was the guard on duty. and third there is “an additional musician (as the hilliard ensemble likes to put it)”: the space. there is an extreme amount of reverb. hearing the recording, one gets very aware of the space. a big difference to most recordings these days.

these three components make for a very beautiful record in a quiet way. and what i find interesting is that for me, this record works best on a rather low volume, late at night.

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if you would like to have a listen, go here. i ripped it as 2 mp3’s (side a / side b) @ 224 from vinyl (and the tracklist is included). especially side a is a little bit worn, so you have quite some crackling. some hate it, i find it on this record quite appropriate. this record has been re-issued on cd as inside the taj mahal I&II, althoug it does not seem that it is distributed globally.

for more information i recommend you have a look at the man’s homepage: paulhornmusic.com. i would like to point out the podcasts you’ll find there where he talks about the early stages of his career.

and now relax, take a deep breath…and enjoy!

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