Music reviews

Confluent melodies

When an unlikely collaboration between Indian composer and keyboardist Ricky Kej and South African flautist and composer Wouter Kellerman results in an album that goes on to win a Grammy in the New Age category and notches up a #1 on the billboard charts, it naturally evokes a lot of curiosity.

‘Winds of Samsara’ is a genre-defining album and is a true study in the rather murky World/New Age music category. Masterfully crafted and well-arranged, the disc is an impeccable blend of musical styles, both old and new. Featuring  artistes from around the world, the album manages to capture essences of cultures in a coherent and organic manner, staying clear of the general mishmash that global fusion is throwing up lately. The album stays true to the claim of forward-moving harmony, progressive composition, and technical prowess interpreted with new perspectives.

The overall sound of the album is mellifluous and soulful. Although there is a clear-cut Indian, particularly Carnatic and South African, influence, it blends in  with the western and global sounds.

The album draws the listener in with the first track, Mahatma, an ode to Gandhi. It manages to transpose his message of peace, love and non-violence in the universal language of music with appropriate Indian influences. The album also has a tribute to Mandela called Madiba, which smoothly blends Indian, Western and South African art forms in a well-crafted track. The album features a total of 14 tracks. While New Earth Calling and Crystal Moon are Kellerman’s compositions with other artistes, Longing and Heaven are composed by Kej. Some of the other notable tracks include River of Time and Eyes of Wonder, co-composed with Prakash Sontakke. The album also features Fiona Joy on the track Grace and Michael Lewis on Nocturne. There is also an interesting take on Greensleeves with sitar riffs on the track Remembrance.

While ‘Winds of Samsara’, which addresses themes of peace and positivity, makes for great listening to the casual listener as background mood music, it certainly provides layer upon layer of intrinsic complexity to the discerning listener.


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