17 March 2020: Music for Social Isolation: John McLaughlin / Drone Islands

John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain 

Is That So? 

Six years in the making, Is that So? is one of John McLaughlin's deepest and most profound musical collaborations with prolific Indian composer and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Joining the duo is their life-long friend and musical brother Ustad Zakir Hussain on the tabla, who has been collaborating with John since they founded Shakti in the early '70s, acknowledged by most to be the first groundbreaking crossover East-West musical group. 'The idea for this album appeared in my mind early 2013. Shankar and I had been touring with Shakti and I was constantly inspired by his superb voice and gigantic talent. Even though I had studied the theory and practice of Indian music for years, I remain a 'Western' musician and one aspect of Western music is the magic of harmony', says John. 'From the outset in the early 1970's, I constantly researched the possibilities of integrating harmony into the traditions of North and South India while at the same time keeping as close as possible to the melodic rules of the Raga system. However, the idea I mention above, was to abandon the rules of the Raga system completely and apply my own western harmonic liberty to the amazing voice of Shankar Mahadevan. ''Before concerts, John and I used to dabble with free improvisations using Indian scales (Ragas) and different harmonies backing them', says Shankar Mahadevan. 'The whole texture, color, feeling and the canvas of the music excited us as harmonic content does not exist in Indian classical music. In the beginning it was just a fun experiment, but it soon became larger than life and we knew we had to record it. When Zakir Hussain, the great tabla Maestro himself agreed to play in the improvisational sections we knew this would take our recording to a new level. We could not have asked for more. Is that So? is a a new concept in the meeting of musicians, singers, percussionists and the musical cultures of the East and West and takes us into unexplored musical horizons.  


2nd volume of the series Drone Islands, "Drone Islands - The Lost Maps" continues Eighth Tower Records' deep explorations into the realm of "droning music". Alongside drone ambient music masters like TROUM, Rapoon, Schloss Tegal, Autopsia, and well known dark ambient projects like Alphaxone, Taphephobia, the volume presents experimentalists such Simon Balestrazzi, Trauma Terrestrial, as well extremely interesting young musicians like Gaspar Peralta. Solid realities and new promises is a sign of the best international drone music.

Raffaele Pezzella


released January 31, 2020


Santa Sangre

Musique Machine


Rosa Selvaggia

Head-Banger Reviews

© Eighth Tower Records
Curated by Raffaele Pezzella (a.k.a. Sonologyst)
Artwork: Francesco Di Stasio
Mastering: Sonologyst
200 copies limited edition CD
© All rights reserved


all rights reserved