On the second album by Nitish Kulkarni, henot only presents highly-enjoyable instrumental world music, but also serves upwhat amounts to a seminar or Masters Class on ethnomusicology. He calls the album LISTEN and basically thatis all he is asking you to do, just open your ears to new sounds that you mightnot be that familiar with. The musicfeatures many different ethnic instruments from around the world scattered hereand there throughout the recording, and they are mixed in with contemporaryinstruments (piano, guitar, horn, harmonica) as well.

Scattered throughout the 14-track recordingare four short interludes titled “Listen: Mbira,” “Listen: Oud,” “Listen: Erhu”and “Listen: Theorbo” -- each around a minute long. These serve as an interlude and introductionto the tune that follows. Kulkarnipresents those four unusual instruments playing mostly solo so that thelistener’s ear gets familiar with the sound, and then he follows the intro witha full-blown melodic ensemble piece also featuring that instrument so that youget to hear the instrument in context. It actually does make the listening experience more interesting. The mbira is an African thumb piano with alimited amount of notes. But in theright hands it can be quite expressive. Those other three instruments are stringed ones from Turkey, China andItaly respectively (all are ancient, but the theorbo specifically is a Baroquecontrabass lute seldom used these days).

But that’s not all. You also will hear Japanese shakuhachi flute,sitar from India, the Middle Eastern darbuka drum, an Australian didgeridoo, aSouth American charango guitar, an Arabic riq tambourine, and various Latin andAsian percussion instruments alongside guitar, cello, violin and more, allplayed by world-class musicians. Kulkarni himself plays synthesizer and various keyboards as well as thetabla from India and the djembe drum from Africa. He is as much a composer and producer as a musician. His expertise is undeniable because thisrecording is a distinct pleasure to listen to if you have an affinity formodern world-fusion music that fuses sounds from anywhere and everywheretogether into a brilliant new mixture. And don’t be surprised if you learnsomething while you groove.