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S. P. Verma (London, UK)

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There Is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
There Is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem
by Wayne W. Dyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True positivity, 2 Dec. 2008
The important thing for me about this wonderful book is that every page felt really alive, as though I was being spoken to by a genuine friend, who has my best interests at heart.
The breadth of learning, across many different religions and cultures, and the examples from Mr Dyer's own life and that of his readers, were often illuminating and thought-provoking.
I preferred the first part, and particularly the discussion of Patanjali's yoga aphorisms in the second chapter, but would recommend this to anyone who is willing to approach their attitude to life's problems and cares with an open mind and heart.

Waltz for Debby
Waltz for Debby

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in creating atmosphere, 24 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Waltz for Debby (Audio CD)
I got this album for 5 pounds in FOPP - before you shell out £26!

So there are 4 instruments on this album - the piano, a double bass, a drum kit, and the audience participation - applause, drinks clinking, chat etc. I'm always surprised that there was so much talking going on, while they played, as I'm constantly mesmerised by the skill and creativity of the trio. But of course, this is a New York jazz club! Surely the guys are showing off to the girls, and using the music as the most wonderful backdrop.

The songs are all relatively slow, with a slight tinge of melancholy. There are 2 takes each of Waltz for Debby, Detour Ahead, My Romance, not a problem as each version goes off in a different direction, with bass and piano exchanging solos in a very "off the cuff" way. The intricacy of the dove-tailing between the players is extraordinary, surely communication has reached a new level between these three, it is more telepathy than anything else...

This is such an evocative album. I always imagine myself in a New York taxicab, under the streetlights and a fine misty rain. Or another image is a lit stage, with the audience enjoying drinks at round tables in darkness... Bill Evans sort of bent over his piano, like an old gardener tending a beautiful flower, and extracting such pleasing cadences and thrilling melodic lines, all underscored by high-hat rhythms and bass licks... For me, it is the way the playing is so excellent, but this excellence is put to the service of creating a mood and emotion, without any showboating, that makes this album something I return to very regularly.

The wonderful version of the Gershwin song "I Loves You, Porgy" rounds off the set.

Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.98

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful album from Deep Forest, 13 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Comparsa (Audio CD)
Is there any musical instrument capable of expressing the infinite subtlety and variety of the human voice? What other instrument can convey the rapture of watching the sun rise over the Ugandan rainforest, or describe the deeply held unconditional love for another human being?

Comparsa, like all the Deep Forest albums, combines the timeless traditional melodies of non-Western societies (on this occasion, mainly from Central America and Madagascar) with the modern conventions of electronic dance and ambient music. Comparsa is another exceptional contribution from Deep Forest. What makes Comparsa so worthwhile are the vocal performances, imbued with deep warmth and compassion, that speak straight to the heart. There is no need to understand the words. For instance, each inflection of the performance on "Tres Marias" expresses a wrenching sadness, and yet is somehow drenched in hope. "Madazulu" sees a group of singers almost raging out of the speakers, communicating their anger at our treatment of the world.
The samples are given more space than on the first album (Deep Forest), which used smaller, shorter samples of vocals from the Baka Pygmies of the Cameroon rainforest, more as part of the overall textural effect, then as the melodic driving force of each track, as they do here in Comparsa, and in Boheme and Music Detected also.
The title track "Comparsa" is a bouncy, soca-style accordion-led ditty. The accordion, that archetypal French instrument, drifts in and out of many songs.
Most of the songs have prominent bass and snare drums playing funky offbeat rhythms, with traditional drums adding cross rhythms. Electronic high frequencies, altered flutes and synthesizers also regularly feature in the instrumentation.
The ambient tracks sound like Jean-Michel Jarre, if he had travelled around Madagascan villages for 5 years, listening to the local music.

Comparsa may not seem as immediately accessible as the other Deep Forest albums. It may even strike you as remarkably naïve and simple in its harmonic and rhythmic language. But is this really such a bad thing? Comparsa will reward those with patience, as the singers gradually communicate their message with un-extinguishable faith, hope and love.

Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5
Shikasta Re: Colonised Planet 5
by Doris Lessing
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An uncomfortable examination of the state of the world, 12 Jan. 2008
There have been many excellent reviews of Shikasta in these pages, but I wanted to mention some elements I haven't seen anywhere else.

There are around the world, stone circles of the same type as the famous Stonehenge in England, and these were incredibly erected by prehistoric men whom had no recourse to the technology that builds our own monoliths today. It is one of the great unexplained mysteries of life on earth. Lessing weaves this idea into the first part of the book, using the idea of the stone circles and alignments as being energy receptors from the stars to the Earth. Our 21st century society, with all our extraordinary modernity, has no answer to how or why these stone circles were even assembled. Lessing's idea is beautiful, and thought-provoking.

After this initial fable the main bulk of the book follows George Sherban, an enlightened benevolent alien being, born into a family of doctors working for humanitarian organisations in the global south, as he acquires the ultimate education to help humanity regroup after a nuclear holocaust. The science fiction idea of benevolent aliens being born into human bodies to try and guide us through our difficult times is actually a mirage used by Lessing for religious and spiritual ideas that have a long history.
For instance, is it really so difficult to believe that men such as Gandhi or Jesus Christ were great loving souls who came to Earth to guide us? Lessing points to another fascinating idea, that the cults that arose around the great spiritual leaders of the past have in fact created as much damage to the world as any positive impacts they may initially have had.

The unique thing about Shikasta is the way Lessing manages to illuminate all the critical issues that face our world now, even though it was written in 1979 long before our looming crises came into perspective. Population explosion, environmental degradation, Western exploitation of the countries in the global south, unbridled consumerism, all form the background to this book. Lessing doesn't allow the mirror to be removed from our face for an instant.

This book is for anyone who wants to consider the state of the world as it really is. If you don't care, or are just looking for another science fiction novel, don't bother with this.

Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra
by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into a sacred science, 12 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Yoga Nidra (Paperback)
You don't need to have done any kind of yoga before to be able to use this book to improve your life. All you need is a floor, a blanket and a friend to read to you, or a cassette player. The exercises, and the theoretical descriptions in the first part of the book, have given me huge stores of energy, motivation and concentration, in all of my activities.

It's extraordinary to think that this great Swamiji, born in a small village in the Himalayan foothills, has written so many clear, lucid textbooks to guide truth seekers all over the world.

On a sideline, I have listened to quite a few Yoga Nidra tapes made by other great teachers in other yoga schools, but have not encountered any quite as good as those I've recorded onto a tape from this book.

I'm quoting here the end of the "Sacred mountain" visualisation that I hope one day to be able to master in my practise - it is in my 1984 edition, although it may not be in the recent editions, it should give you a flavour of the sacred knowledge Swamiji is imparting onto us.

"You trudge languidly on alone... and finally reach the top... Where the guide is waiting for you. As you observe the spectacular panoramic view, a feeling of exhilaration floods through your body and mind. The guide gives you a meaningful smile... And you are grateful to him for his forcefulness during the climb. You are exalted by the environment; you are overcome by a feeling you have never experienced before. You are still absorbed in this exhilaration when the guide says to you "Follow me"... and leaps from the peak and disappears into space... without a further thought you follow".
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Music Detected
Music Detected
Offered by playanywhere
Price: £19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Detected: Intelligent life detected?, 29 April 2007
This review is from: Music Detected (Audio CD)
Well I cannot write highly enough of this album. Surely it is quite a change to hear a "rock" Deep Forest album where the beats are a lot more conspicuous and slower then we are used to, but within their unique quality of production we can overcome this. Look beyond the rock drumming and listen to the words, that seem to distill the joy and pain of the state of the world into a few judicious lines - "life for a life will be wiping out mankind". An ecological under current runs through the album, as you would expect from Deep Forest, a duo who collect music samples from some of the world's oldest communities with the purpose of informing and educating the modern Western societies. DF have created the musical equivalent of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This album, for the first time, allows us to appreciate their spiritual appreciation of the world in a mainstream language, English. The use of samples is more sparing then in their previous albums. The melodies range from Arabic, Indian to Far Eastern melodies, with an equally delicate instrumental layering. "India" mixes Led Zepellin-like guitars and the Breton bombarde (like Scottish bagpipes) with North Indian devotional melodies. "Endangered Species" is a plea for consumerist restraint masquerading as an overlooked speed garage classic. "Computer Machine" gives us digital speech singing somehow comparing computers and their potential to the infinite beauty and depth of the "star night", all to an extremely addictive hook in the refrain. "Deep Blue Sea" has Anggun, a Javanese singer, celebrating the wonder of the natural world, whilst delivering a performance of captivating subtlety, particularly in the verses sung in Javanese. "You will be ready" is the emotional core of the album, a true shock to the system delivered by the powerful performances of both Angela Mcluskey and Chitose Hajime. We cannot ignore these calls to arms concerning the future of our home, our duty as guardians and stewards of the Earth has to be continually remembered and called into question. The final track's heart-breaking American soul-style refrain of "lift your head in prayer, only if you dare, you can speak to your god, hold him in your heart", weaves in and out of the Hindi devotional extracts, to leave us a final message we can take away if we want. DF should not have had to make this album. It is an honour and a privilege for us to hear their music, but it has only come about because so much of what they present to us, is at risk of being lost forever. We should not have to listen to their music, to look up at the heavens smiling, while the tears run down our faces, and we forget our real purpose here...

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