Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ten Million Moons - Review No 1.

by Chris Diamond - student of Hindi and Music, at SOAS. (Plays tabla and sitar).

At ease in the village temples of India and the chic yoga studios of London or New York, Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, in their new album Ten Million Moons, prove that kirtan comes in all shapes and sizes. The trendy, upbeat, and smooth world music style is equally matched with featurettes of every major musical style of India that has influenced modern kirtans.

To classic Vaishnava tunes, Gaura Vani and his team add a cool, vibrant, jazzy edge. The polished corners of traditional, spontaneous kirtans, might make this a best-selling album amongst the many Americans and Europeans who frequent yoga studios and meditation groups.

This album contrasts with the last album from As Kindred Spirits, Nectar of Devotion. Whereas the last album had a fairly uniform feel and style, the new album, Ten Million Moons, has almost as many styles as moons. We skip from yoga chic with tracks such as the very soothing Moods of Kirtan (Siksastakam) to the bouncing-off-the-walls ecstatic Pirate Song (Dina Dayal).

Gaura Vani & co take some leaps of faith as they explore the uncharted territory of bhajan fusion. We hear a Gospel version of the Bengali classic Jiva Jago; an American folksy tune inspired by the ancient philosophy of India more akin to Bob Dylan, and a Sufi Persian poem of Amir Khusrau. For the purists out there, traditional Indian Bhajans in Hindi (Meera’s Song) and Bengali (Worship the Golden Lord) can also be found.

Overall this album stretches the imagination of both hardcore kirtaniyas and World music buffs. I don’t envy the record shop owners who have to find the right label to put this album under on the shelves!

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