Prof Cornelius’ Guide to the Sonic Excellence of Ralph (Rudra) Beauvert


At the London Astoria October 10, 1991

Ralph “Rudra” Beauvert is a key member of the magnificent Shiva’s Quintessence, the group he formed with Phil “Shiva” Jones, to carry on the spirit of Quintessence music. Rudra’s sure musicianship and mastery of keyboards underpins the entire enterprise, helping Shiva’s extraordinary voice soar to new heights.

Rudra has a great ear for music and a warm sympathy for the era in which Quintessence first appeared. But he is certainly no musical traditionalist. Read the interview section with Rudra on this website to discover just how avant-garde he really is. Rudra’s musical legacy is rich but in a very different way from Shiva’s, and he knows his way about a bewildering mix of musical genres, including Kraut Rock, all Electronic music, and some of the more avant-garde rock bands of the early 70s like Van Der Graaf Generator and Hawkwind.

Rudra developed his music using the rich sonic possibility of synthesisers – at one point he was even a synthesiser instructor. He has produced a number of albums, two of which, “Nandi” and “Stages” are real classics, and my particular personal favourites. As Rudra, ever modest, puts it on the liner notes of one of his albums, he is responsible for “Voice, keys, knobs, pedals, samples and programs” - which might make him sound a bit like a plumber. But his grasp of the possibilities of a synthesiser is what really elevates his music. This is not harsh, anti-life computerised Kraftwerk monotony, but music exploring the lyrical sweeps that synthesisers, samplers and Midi technology can bring.

But like most musicians, Rudra has also had his fair share of struggling within the tight commercial strictures of the music world in actually getting to be heard at all. It is not easy to make music in a world dominated by boy bands.

Through all his works shines a great intelligence and a real respectful attitude to music. His albums are worth more than a listen. And if you want to hear an absolutely compulsive riff, there is no finer than the fantastic “Mahadeva” on the Nandi album.

The other element is a deeply ingrained spirituality that takes a very Eastern/Indian direction by the time we get to “Nandi”. There are some fantastic unworldly lyrics: “All of the day and all of the night I grieve for you Shiva Shankara”. So, some great spiritual vibes as Rudra walks with the angels.

Rudra sings on most of his albums, and in English too, which to an accomplished multi-linguist may be no sweat, but is none the less an impressive feat. His voice is unusual. At its best it soars with a kind of gleeful irony that is hard to pinpoint, but he can also sing with a great deal of feeling – best work on the vocals is Stages part two. Other times he sounds like one of the Electro-pop pioneers. He has this odd, subversive element to his voice, like he is haranguing a crowd to rebel and throw off their chains. And he really sings with passion as well.

You get a sense from his CDs of a very astute musical mind tackling spiritual and ecological themes without compromise, so this is not music to simply ignore or put on as background listening. That said, I think it is also fair to say that many of his finest musical moments awaited his later collaboration with Shiva Jones. But I salute this unique musical savant.

TIME AND DISTANCE (B.O.Y.Records, Switzerland)

This is Rudra at his most commercial, with the help of Graham Clark on violin and Mario Scogniamiglio on guitars, together with some good live cuts at the end of the main tunes. It also, understandably, has a very eighties feel about because it dates from the end of that era.

I’ll pick out what I think are the highlights. But the musical pairing with Graham Clark was really interesting and fruitful. So it’s a good effort. If you want to go to a Rudra freak-out, head for the live “Mother of All” recorded back in 1989.

Uncanny intro that starts off with a classic bit of Euro-electronica only to then segue into the sweetest violin passage from Gong-ite Graham Clark, and thus on to the song itself “Time and Distance”, a bit of an OMD kind of vibe, and builds into an affecting climax. We get a live version which gets stuck into it right from the start, though it sounds a bit muddier than the studio- again the moment when the violin appears is pure magic and the track ends with some great synth interplay.

The album moves quickly on to a real highlight, “Ship of Fools” – always a good subject for a song (check out the Grateful Dead’s excellent song on the subject). Rudra begins with a little figure from the electric piano, and this develops into a snakey, enchanting riff. He sings of city life “immersed in mindless fiction” with a pain “raging without cease” and excellent guitar work from Mario Scogniamiglio. The track reaches another really good passage with the violin.. the sound works well. “Maybe Titanic.. maybe a ship of fools”. There are lots of dynamic twists and turns.

The live version is a bit busier but has a really great lengthy intro and I think Rudra actually sings this better live. Great violin solo as well. All in all the band sound like they are about 10 strong, which is a tribute to Rudra’s programming.

“Ego” is almost a Shiva Jones-esque satire on meditation, spiritual endeavour which is worth a listen. “Solaris” has aged a bit which is a pity, because the feel of the track is great. “Waste” brings us to industrial synth washes and the threat of a radiation leak, a topic later fleshed out in live performances captured on Stages.

Talking of live tracks, “Mother of All” is a great number .. legato city with some great synth drones and glissando guitar by Graham. As I like jams and experimental music, this is my favourite track on the album, because it is spacey, atmospheric, deep space kind of music which gradually picks up rhythmn and direction. The echo is turned full on. Ah me, if only Rudra had played this track with Quintessence.. it calls for a band to get behind it and drive it to unknown places. Considering this was recorded in 1989, it’s a space/raga rock classic that ends all too soon.

RITE OF PASSAGE (Voiceprint, UK)

This was Rudra’s commercial opus issued by Voiceprint records in the early 90s, and finds our hero taking on a whole spectrum of deep issues, such as the ecology, religion, “gathering life’s roses” , together with some beautiful collaboration with Will Strehler on various guitars and Graham Clark on violins and guitar. The album is very well recorded and features the heartland of Rudra’s works.. this is where you hear the “official” versions of Fools Paradise, Rite of passage and Green.

It’s a fascinating document of the problems facing Electronic maestros at the start of the 90s, after electronic music had essentially been robbed of its earlier space Rock/kraut Rock promise by a generation of pop acts with spiky hairdos. It also seems to represent Rudra’s bid for commercial acceptability, and this album is about as mainstream as he gets. As this reviewer goes every time for the wild and the curious in modern music, I wish he had cut loose a little more, but there again he had an album to deliver.

Try “the Unconscious Life” , especially the swampy intro for Rudra at his uniquely most interesting. Rudra sounds more than a little like the now forgotten Nik Kershaw or Howard Jones, and it is a great tune when all is said and done, with some good guitar as well. Rudra is on form, it’s a great song and my personal album highlight.

Or if you have more conventional tastes, stick to the first two tracks and the excellent love song (or it may be a spiritual paean) “I believe in You” which has another fantastic arpeggio heaven intro.

STAGES (Mooncow Records)

This is the live album taken from two main shows. The first show catches Rudra with Will Strehler on guitar at London’s Astoria (1992) and Wintherthur (1993). The second brings us forward a year to a much more ambient sounding show at Rheinfeld Casino, Switzerland. To my own personal taste, the second show is the classic one, it has a quality of gentleness and complexity that is entrancing.

Part One: Astoria London/Winterthur

With a “hello!” the album brings us to “Fools Paradise”. The sound quality of these first songs is not as rich as the second part of the album. Still a good track. But I think the best of the songs in this first track is a good version of “The Unconscious Life” that sounds like a sea-shanty sung by a space rocket scientist and has some good Will Strehler. Or maybe “Time and Distance”, which this time around has morphed into a Hawkwindesque epic. But as with most of Rudra’s music, dynamics and pacing are to the fore, and there is a great guitar playing from Will on this track.

Part Two: Rheinfelden Casino, Switzerland 1994

This was some gig, or collection of tracks from different shows. It’s like being flung into the cosmos with a rush of samples, strange bleeps and washes of sounds, right from the beginning. Completely fascinating and, as far as I am concerned, exactly the kind of music that should be played from every rooftop. Most of the tracks are from “RITE OF PASSAGE” but the way they are sewn together seamlessly is a fascinating process.

“Tune In”, the introduction, is one of the very best things Rudra has done. It sounds as fresh as the day it was laid down.

Hard to top the intro, but “Green”, with a wash of birdsong, Rudra sings about the colour of green and the duties we have to protect the environment. His voice is very well supported and treated in the mix, it sounds full and appealing. The track also shows Rudra’s mastery of programming as layer on layer of sound is added..

At the London Astoria October 10, 1991

The next tracks comprise Rudra’s “greatest hits”, including excellent versions of “Fools Paradise” and “Rite of Passage” – again, Rudra is in good voice. “Time and Distance “ lopes along with a light feel to it, sort of like a spiritual Jean Michel Jarre and it is a good version. It’s the one track where Rudra’s voice sound uncannily like someone, and I’m trying to think who it is. Whatever, it sounds good. “This is flight 107 to Melbourne Australia” begins “The good times” , an uncanny foretaste of his later link with Shiva Jones. This is a subversive take on the aboriginal plight. The album ends with “I Believe”, a Rudra epic love song – either to God or to a loving partner.


Nandi is in fact a little in-joke. Nandi is Shiva’s faithful bull, his means of transport as it were in Hindu mythology. So, Mooncow.. Nandi.. get it? This is the quarry from which the first Shiva collaboration Shiva’s Shakti was hewn in some instances, and it is the album most simpatico to the Quintessence universe. But there are important differences, too. The album also has a foot firmly in the world of science fiction/space travel with many telling samples. The album features Enzo Lopardo on percussion and the combination works well right from the wonderfully full-sounding intro “Kashmir”. Slowly but surely this opener unwraps itself with an unmistakeably Middle Eastern feel, and Enzo’s percussive abilities are put to good effect. Features also a great use of sample singing. It all works very well together.

Rudra in Kashmir 1996

One of the stand-out tracks, and my all-time Rudra favourite is “Mahadeva”, which just gathers this fantastic momentum and has a wonderful dynamic. Would be a great film score, and a lot of Rudra’s music does seem very visual, too. I could listen to this track for hours. The kind of thing the gods might play if they went out clubbing. It fades out into a bubbling coda. But it is really worth a listen.

The space stuff is highly entertaining as well. Nandi has a very Hawkwindish feel on occasion, and you always get a sense that Rudra knows exactly what he’s doing with his switches, knobs and programmes. He never floods you with sonic noise, it is all to a careful purpose, and as an arranger Rudra has a great feel for what should go where.

Interesting to compare “Uma Parvati” with the reworked version appearing as “Parvati Devi” on the SHIVA SHAKTI album. The two of course have a similar feel, the difference being Shiva’s voice, together with Parvati Devi for the very first time.

Another great track on this album is “All of the Night and All of the Day” which mixes some US space mission with the full panoply of Rudra’s space synths. Very. spacey.. including a beautiful mellow Southern Indian Sanskrit song, a love song to Shiva (the god).

Rudra and Hanuman