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ASHIRVAD is a drop in the divine Ocean of Bliss.
Through the power and mystery of sound and music we invoke here a musical offering to the Gods. The process was initiated at the turn of the millenium, with a cosmic calling to share majestic magic in music, transcendentalism in tone, tryptamine in timbre, revalatory in rhythm and mellifluous in mood. With the Grace of the Gods we share the fruits of our labour with the residents of our Earthnation.
Featuring the following Guest Musicians :-
Gopal Bannerjee | Sukhdev Mishra | Georgina Brett | Johanna Stein | Haradhan Das Baul | Kallol Mazumder | Shirin Sengupta | Gopal Bannerjee | S.K.Indu | Debashish Haldar | Dr.Ashwin Kalbag | Shiv Shankar Roy | Sadhu Seva | Eugene Moriarti | Debashish Haldar | Noodreem
THE STYLES AND SOUNDS WITHIN ‘ASHIRVAD’
Sacred sound permeates the entire history of Indian culture. From the ancient Sanskrit hymns and mantras of the Vedas and Upanishads, to Medieval Drupada, Courtly Khyal, Amorous Thumri, Devotional Bhajans, Dhuns and Kirtans. Ashirvad weave together, some of the various elements of sacred sound inherent in the vast spectrum of Indian music in a sympathetic way with modern technological styles of Ambient Trance, Ethnotronic Dub, Psychedelic Fusion.
Ashirvad is a series of sonic landscapes inspired by Indian Ragas and various spiritual themes that will take you on a mystical journey to transcendental realms of wonderous splendor. Ravi Shankar once remarked, “A Raga is that which colours the mind”. Raga can also mean natural, spontaneous or intense emotional passion. A Raga is specifically a type of living force in the form of a specific arrangement of musical notes, containing an aesthetic mode of being called Rasa.
Track 1. KUSH TEA is a journey through exotic spaces, inspired by the devotional sentiments of Raga Bhairavi. The ambient intro opens to auspicious mantras with Sukhdev Mishra glorifying the holy name of ‘Hari’, followed by Gopal Banerjee praising the cosmic gurus of the Vedic pantheon with the famous invocation, “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Deva Maheshvara, Guru Sakshad Param Bramha, Tasmai Sri Guruve Namah”. Gypsy guitar then introduces a melodic theme from a popular Bengali Bhajan, “Bhaja Hure Mana” by the 16th cent. Vaishnava poet Govinda Das, who advises his mind to be devotional “My dear mind, just take shelter in adoring Sri Nandanadan (Krishna), at whose lotus feet there is no fear”. The journey then takes us through a mystical flight of fancy with dreamy cello, oboe, violin and an ambient incantation. The dynamics then rise with dramatic insistence to a Central Asian Gipsy jig, then turns East again via Varanasi to the grooves of Bengal. Concluding our mystical journey, we find the ecstatic bard Haradhan das Baul, wandering along the banks of mother Ganga, questioning his divinely inebriated state with the poignant finale, “Ki mode cowalo kishori ?” “What intoxicant have you given me?”.
Track 2. GARUDA’S DREAM is the track with the most live feel on Ashirvad, giving it a sense of flying free. (Garuda is the winged, half man/bird carrier of Vishnu). The brilliant violin and vocal overdubs were created by Sukhdev Mishra after recording him also playing tablas live along with Mathura das’s twelve string groove, which was originally conceived during a jam they had together in a friends kitchen in Brixton in 2005. Sukhdev also added the main refrain to the composition and being a veritable one man show, later strummed the swaramandala. The basic guitar composition was quite simple but played in a sequence of open chords in mixolydian mode, allowing Sukhdev to have fun improvising with the flow, by sending it dancing to a mighty crescendo through a wonderfully spontaneous contrast of vocal inflections and dazzling riffs on his violin. Darren pulled the original recording out of the Sangita Studio archives when he returned from India in 2008, and went about polishing and setting the track with level upon level of magic ingredients to enhance the dynamic mood, along with some more guitars and percussion by Mathura das when he finally returned to London two months later.
Enjoy visual narratives of kaleidoscopic journeys in this excerpt of “Garuda’s Dream”:-
Track 3. MAGIC CARPET utilizes Raga Bhairagi, a melodic scale containing the notes used in the traditional chanting of Sanskrit mantras such as the Purusha Shukta, Vishnu Sahasra Nama and other sacred texts. The luxurious pulsating groove along with the seductive Bansuri bamboo flute playing of Shyan Kishori, entices us to an encounter with the primordial mystery of an ancient time, as the haunting vocals of Shirin Sengupta guide us on a sacred vision quest to the core of our being.
Track 4. CITY OF JOY is an ode to the unique vibrancy of Kolkata. Cal. as it known by it’s residents and afficianados, has probably more artists, musicians and poets per capita than any other city in the world. It is also the state capital of Bengal, and was once considered the second most influential city in the entire British Empire. Darren wanted to capture the feelings of an unknown gem from the Calcutta underground music scene, and upon meeting Gopal Banerjee realised he had found a perfect example of the unblemished talent he was seeking. Mathura das and Darren somehow managed to coax the shy reluctant Gopal into singing along with an ambient piece Darren had composed earlier in his hotel room. And despite the busy street sounds outside his house and with regular friends in attendance, Gopal manages to completely submerge himself in the moody pathos of a Purvi type Raga alap (intro.). He then proceeds to introduce an amazingly unique example of swimming in the glorious nectar of the famous ‘Hare Krishna’ Maha Mantra (names of God), with the mystical depth and devotion of an ancient Rishi (Sage).
Track 5. THE VISION takes the form of a traditional light classical Thumri composition, enhanced with modern technological sensitivity. Sukhdev Mishra’s beautiful vocals, with a just a few lines of exquisite Hindi poetry, depict a romantic recollection of lover’s eyes meeting passionately as if for the first time. The soulful Sarangi of Dabashish Haldar echoes with masterful ease and refinement, that magical moment where magnetic attraction stirs in the hearts of lovers. The watery rhythmic pulse, is the sound of the clay bodied double ended Bengali mridanga drum called ‘Sri khol’, beautifully played by Govind Pandit in Navadwip, a holy town on the Ganges River situated three hours north of Kolkata. Allow yourself to be softly embraced by the mellow sounds of the ‘Vision’, while you drift gently on sacred streams of sonic nectar towards an infinite ocean of celestial blessings.
Track 6. ASHIRVAD continues the gentle flow with a Mirabai bhajan set in the light pastoral mood of a Pahari (mountain) folk melody. Mirabai was a 16th century Rajput Princess, who renounced her royal lifestyle due to her intense loving devotion for Krishna, becoming one of the most famous poet saints of North India. Dr. Ashwin Kalbag was inspired by a melodic theme we had developed, then lovingly created his own beautiful composition to accompany our theme with her poem, which describes the inseparable relationship Mira has with her unpredictable lover Sri Krishna. Mira finally implores Krishna to allow her to be a resident of Braj, (Krishna’s residential district) where every step is a dance, every word a song and the sound of His divine flute will always be her constant companion.
Track 7. THE VALE OF AVALON is an evocative instrumental piece originally created in Glastonbury, the ancient sacred spiritual center of England in the West country of Somerset. The sparkling sound of Sadhu Seva’s guitar picking along with the swaramandala harp, recalls an ancient Celtic brook, bubbling up from a sacred spring, refreshing the lush apple orchards of this mystical valley steeped in myth and legend. The river of life then flows East to Goa, where Eugene Moriaty from Russian joins us on our journey with his one take wonder sax solo, inspired by Raga Bhairavi and performed in Indian Shenai (Indian oboe) style while riding along the rolling waves of the tabla, linking the liquid spiritual pulse and flow of life from West to the East.
Track 8. SOUL SEED is a life enhancing experience, like plunging into a refreshing pool of healing nectar in an oasis of spaciousness. Dive deep into an exotic realm of tranquility, an esoteric shangrila within the inner regions of your the heart and discover the “Peace that passes all understanding”. Debashish Haldar proceeds to mesmerize us with his amazingly intuitive sarangi playing, spontaneously created on the spot while the track was running without ever hearing it before. Something only a master musician can accomplish. Debashish manages to fuse so effortlessly and naturally with the Raga Bhupali theme, that his playing appears to be guided by hands of the divine.