Pearls of the Tay, Perth Concert Hall

"Arkeology" - Trilok Gurtu with the Arkè String Quartet

Another Trilok triumph.

Once again, the Indian percussionist and composer Trilok Gurtu proves himself to be among the world’s most adventurous, skilled and intelligent fusionists, on this spectacular marriage between East and West, in collaboration with Italy’s Arkè String Quartet. Many of the best fusions are sound collisions, their very success based on a thrilling clashing of cultures. Arkeology is different, for it seeks to emphasise not the differences but the seamless empathy between two apparently contrasting musical worlds.

The opener, ‘Balahto’, is one of Gurtu’s three featured compositions and is typical of the approach, kicking in with an urgent insistent bass pattern over skittering Asian percussion before the Western classical strings take up a dancing melody with a vaguely Celtic feel.

Nobody’s showboating or trying to outplay each other: every instrument, Eastern and Western is carefully calibrated in perfect balance.

Oddly, it’s often the compositions by the Italian quartet that have the strongest Asian feel. ‘Kermanşah’ is written by violinist Valentino Corvino but has Gurtu’s dreamy tabla playing to the fore, and bursts of Indian tala singing over some lovely, Gypsy-like strings, while ‘Fes’, composed by fellow violinist Carlo Catnini, is another sublimely moody piece that unites Asian, Mediterranean and North African influences. There’s both an attention to detail and a broader, cinematic quality. To say that in places it sounds like high-class film music is no criticism at all.