Luaka Bop presents ‘World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’. Coltrane, also known as Turiyasangitananda, released thirteen full-length records from 1967 until passing in 2007. This compilation, the first in a planned series of spiritual releases, represents her most obscure body of work. While the music itself is sublime, the story behind the record is awe-inspiring.
Following John Coltrane‘s passing, Alice sought spiritual guidance from Swami Satchidinanda to overcome hallucinations and severe weight loss. After overcoming these “tapas,” Coltrane devoted herself to an immensely spiritual life. During the late ’70s, she officially changed her name to Turiyasangitananda, which literally means “transcendental Lord’s highest song of bliss“. By 1983, Turiya established the Sai Anantam Ashram outside Los Angeles and began conducting devotional Vedic ceremonies as its spiritual director. Inspired by these ceremonies, Turiya began experimenting musically and privately released four cassettes to the community between 1982 and 1995.
Over twenty years after the final cassette’s release, listeners may hear eight of these songs for the first time. While ‘Universal Consciousness’ (1971) infused spiritual elements within a jazz framework, this compilation features a sound Turiya invented. Blending the gospel music of Detroit churches with Indian devotional music, Turiya‘s style is truly original. These songs, which were never released to the public on a widespread basis, will both astound and heal listeners.
Opening with ‘Om Rama,’ a nearly ten-minute-long track featuring organ-esque synths, ambient swells, and the Sai Anantam Singers, the compilation is joyous and cleansing. Immediately following this, ‘Om Shanti’ finds Turiyasangitananda singing for the first time (in Sanskrit) in her recorded catalog. On ‘Journey to Satchidananda’, reverberating synths mesmerize listeners before the ashram’s singers deliver a vocal performance that transcends description. ‘Er Ra’ finds Turiya singing over a lone, majestic harp. Closing with ‘Keshava Murahara,’ a heady, cinematic track featuring string flourishes and spacey synths, the compilation shares not only Turiyasangitananda‘s most meaningful music, but also her soul. Profound in spirit, and revelatory in their performance, these recordings represent an essential addition to Turiya‘s discography. Given recent world events, this record — one of the year’s finest — offers respite and much-needed guidance.
‘World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’ is out now via Luaka Bop.