• Epidemics
  • Shankar/Caroline (ECM) 1986 

Indian violinist Shankar — star of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Cutter” and notable records by Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, etc. — takes a break from sessions and jazz to try his hand at leading a crypto-rock group (with guitarist Steve Vai) on this exciting, offbeat experiment. The Epidemics’ record tends to drone, but in a pleasant, Monsoonish sort of way, with bouncy synthesized percussion driving Shankar’s weedy vocals and unique violin sound, which neatly contrast Percy Jones’ agile bass work. The songs are simple and their construction familiar, but artificial-sounding production and uncommon arrangements park the album well outside the pop mainstream.

[Ira Robbins]