“Dream Symposium”, the first single from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s pending seventh studio album, is an ever timely reminder of what world music can accomplish. We still do not hear, even in a modern world where technology demolishes pre-existing boundaries, enough of this sort of music in our everyday lives. Mainstream media outlets rely on pop, rap, country, and rock to pay the bills and instrumental music is always a hard sell. “Dream Symposium” has many strengths this review will discuss, but it shows above all else that founder Ritesh Das’ prodigious creativity is far from exhausted over twenty five years after first founding the Toronto Tabla Ensemble.
I come away from watching this video and hearing the music convinced a major reason behind Das’ continued creativity is the energy he derives from working with inspiring performers. Even a single listen to “Dream Symposium” highlights the strengths of a musical unit who play together with otherworldly focus and passion. You cannot help but be impressed by the way a multitude of rhythms wrap around one another, foreshadow approaching changes in direction, and create a consistent thread sustaining the entire composition. Das is the songwriter, but the ensemble’s talents breathe life into the performance. “Dream Symposium” is almost four minutes long, but you never notice. The track passes you by like a dream.
Despite working in an obvious traditional vein, “Dream Symposium” makes use of modern instruments as well. There is the distinctive sound of a full drum kit heard throughout the track and, in the end, provides one of the key rhythmic blocks for the track. It often pursues counter rhythms that are nevertheless complementary to the table players, but during other sections of the performance it underlines the traditional percussion and gives it added aural urgency.
Dream Symposium is the first single of the seventh album by Toronto Tabla Ensemble. This all percussion track was composed by Ritesh Das for the Youth Ensemble, whose members are featured in the music video.
The ensemble makes use a small orchestra of percussion, but it is notable that listeners never feel overwhelmed by such abundance. “Dream Symposium” has an airy feel throughout and the production delineates each instrument with clarity in the mix. Da’ compositional skills are unquestionable. They are not just the product of sharp skills and extensive rehearsal, however, but something deeper. They testify to his deep affinity for this musical style and his passion for his art is likely one of the guiding principles that have powered and sustained the Toronto Tabla Ensemble throughout its long history.
“Dream Symposium” is such a rewarding musical experience that it sets the bar high for the forthcoming album. Even a brief listen to the band’s previous efforts, however, will reassure you that the ensemble are more than up for the challenge of surrounding this single with numerous other high quality tracks and many will likely become staples of their live performances for many years to come. World music, traditional music, call it what you like, but the Toronto Tabla Ensemble is, in the end, sonic art brought to life with such love and care you cannot help but believe it will stand the test of time and provide anyone who encounters it with a transformative listening experience.