EMI Columbia 1974
01. Mirror Image
02. Raga Kirwani
03. Raga Charukeshi
In 1968 Clem Alford travelled to India to study the sitar with Pandit Sachindranath Saha, when he returned to the U.K., he set about forming a group. In 1969 the Windmill label released the eponymous 'Sagram', a semi traditional sitar record complete with exploitation cover art. It didn't sell well and was also misspelled, it should be 'Sargam'. Clem's next project was a fusion of Folk and classical Indian music called 'Magic Carpet'. Their self titled record was released on Mushroom records in 1972.
In 1974, Clem Alford released his masterpiece 'Mirror Image'. This carefully conceived album has three instrumental tracks, side one being a modern Indo-jazz fusion take with Wah Wah sitar and side two having two tracks of traditional classical Indian music.
The two traditional ragas on the second side show Clem's depth of knowledge of classical Sitar composition but the real jewel here is side one's title track.
One whole side of vinyl holds this funky, futuristic Sitar workout. At times sounding like a San Francisco jam band teleported to West Bengal or an Indian prog band making a Bay record. Careful Can-esque edits keep this piece interesting and flowing. Truly magic stuff.
From the sleeve notes :
"Mirror Image is an intriguing record, rich in sound and new in musical and philosophical concept - an aural portrait reflected in a series of mirrors, creating a collage of vision which diminishes in time and space. Time and space are the 'veil of illusion' which hides the unity of material things, for in reality there is but one."
John Mayer, creator and pioneer of Indo-jazz fusions and author of these sleeve notes, obviously anticipated criticism from the folk purist crowd. Here's how he signs off :
"This album must be listened to with an open mind, for if the new electronic sounds of the sitar in 'Mirror Image' and the dichotomy of styles on the two sides of the record seem alarming to the purist let him remember that rigid customs and die-hard traditions are the great barriers to world integration."
Right On !