Solo Artist

snake music cdSnake Music
(Snake Music Chapter 1. Cat No. BLR101) 1997

It all started here for me ..my debut album. I had never played with a tabla player before meeting Saquib Qureshi this album is what happened when we met for the very first time!!!

There are some really inspired improvisations on this album, and some  hugely impressive fretwork ..I was (and still am) very proud of both the music produced as well as my own playing on this album.

Three Monkeys CDThree Monkeys
(Snake Music Chapter 2. Cat no. BLR1000) 1999

This was my second release and has some unique music on it. I am particularly fond of the fretless bass/tabla duets especially the track “Delerium” since to the best of my knowledge this has never been tried before as an extended piece of music.

The guitar compositions are stronger too with strong melodic themes and improvisations based on those themes. My favourite guitar track is the opener “Love In The Rain” because of the fine interplay with Iqbal on tabla.

“Abandon all preconceptions all who enter here, because this is both what you imagine and also like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Rajan plays six string acoustic guitar in an Indian modal style although he comes at the music from several different directions – Shakti, Funk and John Fahey are just some of the influences that spriong to mind, he is accompanied on all the self –penned tracks variously by Iqbal Khna Pathan, Aftab Malhotra and Saqib Qureshi who share the tabla duties.

The really unusual aspect here is that three of the tracks feature Rajan on his main instrument, fretless electric bass. These work wonderfully well, the melismatic bass counterpointed by the sharp almost metallic, rippling tone of the tablas and they provide an effective contrast to the guitar tracks. The music is largely improvisational, a basic theme is established by Rajan and the table players dictate the changes in tempo from there on, and in order to capture the freshness and spontaneity of such playing the material was recorded as you hear it, in one take, and certainly benefits from that. Rajan attacks his music with a passion, the six strings sound many more, and the listener is at times surrounded by great chunks of jangly guitar as the ideas flow from his fingers, encouraged by the ever changing rhythms from the tablas.

I doubt whether you’ll hear many more innovative collections than this all year, so if you’re a fan of guitar pickers, Indian modal improvisation or jazz bass this CD is well worth investigating. Look out for Rajan and his snake music at a venue near you.” Folk on Tap, 1999

“Rajan Spolia is heading for the big time. The talented folk musician’s current release ‘Three Monkeys’, has earned him significant critical acclaim. He produces his material on his own small label; Bass Lord Records. Although born in India, Spolia has lived in England since the age of two. Critics are beginning to notice his work. Here is what Steve Caseman has to say:

“ Rajan Spolia has been developing his unique and often fascinating blend of Indian classical music and jazz for many years, culminating in his debut album ‘Snake Music’. At times intense, sublime and atmospheric, “Three Monkeys” possesses a similar ambience to Ry Cooders work with V.M Bhatt, albeit in a different area. Spolia’s hugely impressive acoustic fretwork alongside the hypnotic tabla work of Iqbal Khan Pathan, recalls the intuitive spirit of the like of Robert Fripp, with a nod to the world of spontaneity” India Today, 2000

good fortune cd Good Fortune
(Snake Music Chapter 3. Cat No. BLRGF1000) 2003

This album was recorded after a few years of wood shedding on the guitar, and working harder to come closer to the music that inspires me…namely Indian Classical music. The tracks are long (to western ears).. but I was extremely pleased at the way the tracks unfolded, taking the listener on a real and hopefully, profound journey.

The tabla player was Manjit Singh Rasiya, and he had a fearsome reputation for being absolutely wicked, so I felt that my playing would need to be at it’s very best and most inspired to play in such distinguished company. His reputation as a truly brilliant tabla player is fully evident on this recording and I was pleased at the way we played together.

This album received the best reviews from some top class publications such as “Jazzwise”, ”Songlines”, “Acoustic Guitar”, “Musician” and several others.

It even got the nod of approval from my Father (because I didn’t tell him it was me playing !!!!!)

“Born in India and raised in England, guitarist Rajan Spolia is joined on his third album by Manju Singh Rasiya on tabla. On the three extended tracks—”Sadness Revisited,” “Good Fortune,” and “Raj’s Dhun”—that make up this 50-minute CD, they combine the feel of jazz improvisation with elements of Indian classical music. The tracks open with solo guitar sections of varying lengths. When the drums enter, the energy level is elevated subtly, but the music maintains a peaceful intimacy as it unfolds. Spolia’s English-made Oakwood guitar (based on a design by luthier William Eaton) has a slightly arched top, a round soundhole, additional flared soundholes, and 15 sympathetic strings stretched across the face of the guitar. Spolia uses a plectrum to play the six main strings on the standard fretted fingerboard, resulting in melodic lines that are angular compared to the microtonal lap-slide liquidity commonly associated with the Indian guitar tradition.

There are even occasional hints of Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo’s string attack and droning lines in Spolia’s playing. This music deserves the undivided attention of anyone interested in the unfolding evolution of contemporary Indian guitar.” Acoustic Guitarist magazine.

“Rajan Spolia succeeded in delivering an album which has depth, balance and a nice eastern feeling. “Snake Music” could put any cobra in trance and this music of Rajan would fit greatin Yoga exercises as his music could have therapeutic effects.A great praise for Rajan’s guitar techniques and involving music. Rajan Spolia dares to penetrate into new musical territory.” Henk te Veldhuis, Bridge Guitar Reviews.

“There are certain CDs which you can’t let just run while you are doing something else (eating, working at the computer, washing up … or whatever). They demand high degrees of concentration and receptiveness, which if practised, reward you with an intense and very satisfying musical experience. Such is the case with the new solo CD by the great Indian/British guitarist Rajan Spoila.

The recording show an honest directness, leading the listener into new worlds, exploring the possibilities of the acoustic guitar within the framework of Indian music, while extending both into a new uncharted realm. Spoila’s  virtuosity is never just for show, if at all he understates at first, showing great maturity and control of his musical domain, only then to unleash a flurry of notes worthy of any guitar hero!

Switch off the TV and computer, sit back and treat yourself to a wonderful musical experience.” Ian Melrose (guitarist, composer, arranger, producer)


Article 14 (Irregular Records) 2001

Fear of a Red Planet (Benefit CD for the morning star newspaper)  2002

With Bands:

Skin Deep ( with Boka Halat) 1999

Liquid Assets (with The Ex Wise Heads) 2008

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