Michael Messer's Mitra

Michael Messer's Mitra.jpeg

Submitted by Iain Patience

Now, here we have that genuinely rare thing - a total original of wondrous cross-continental music that makes you pinch yourself and ask why it hasn't been done before.

Messer is a UK resonator/blues/slide guitar master with a positive pedigree in acoustic blues. For Michael Messer's Mitra, he has teamed up with two young Indian musicians, Hindustani, Manish Pingle on Mohan Veena (a new instrument to me) otherwise known as Indian slide guitar, and Gurdain Rayatt an English Tabla player of some distinction.

Messer says he has long been interested in the possibility of bringing this Indian sub-continent musical tradition into the studio to merge with his own love for traditional US blues music. With this extraordinary release, he has successfully done just that. Astonishingly, perhaps, the whole project was completed in a matter of a few days with virtually no overdubs and the result is little short of jaw-dropping.

Not since the Beatles teamed up with Ravi Shankar back in the day has there been such an experimental and inspired meeting of musical cultures. I've no doubt this album is going to be internationally lauded for both its musicianship and Messer's stunning vision. This is an album of pure, sparkling, sublime originality. Anyone with an interest in traditional acoustic blues will be inevitably bowled over by the seamless fusion of what could easily have been two clashing musical cultures.

Tracks covered include a couple from Mississippi Fred McDowell ('You Go to Move' and 'You Gonna Be Sorry'), another few from Muddy Waters ('Rollin' & Tumblin' ' and 'I Can't Be Satisfied'); add a traditional Indian Raga, 'Bhupali Blues' and old country standard 'Rolling In My Sweet Baby's Arms', and you have a fair idea of what to expect here. Even then, you'll be amazed by the soulful sound. 'Mitra' itself means 'Friends' - an apt title for such a wonderful musical meeting.

Iain Patience