This is a delightfully different
sound for those accustomed to hearing Indian Raga bands. This is a delicious mix of very traditional
Indian music with some very Celtic influences.
This is unlike anything you may have heard before, and it is expertly
executed and a pleasure to listen to.
This CD is the bands live concert
performance at the Bharatiya Vidapeeth Institute of Environmental Education and
Research (BVEER) in Pune,
India from January of
2004. The CD includes three “Quicktime”
video clips from the concert. The BVEER
is a facility for training teachers in environmental awareness, and the clips
include some overdubbing of facts and information on the environmental issues
that this institute addresses, along with some beautiful panoramas of Indian
landscapes, students and teachers addressing their part in the programs and
video footage of the band in concert.
This is a wonderful addition to this CD and worth watching.
But it’s the music you came here
for. And you are in for a most
C. Dunster has blended
traditional Indian music with the melodies of the Irish/Celts and produced a
most wonderful product that has even caught the ear of Paul McCartney.
Do not let the fact that this is
a live performance throw you off. The
production quality of this CD will never let on this is a live performance. The auditorium that this was recorded in is a
“state-of-the-art” facility completed in 2002 and it shows in the first rate
recording and sound on this CD.
The CD has a total of 9 tracks
running just over four minutes to about seven and a half minutes, making a total
of just over fifty-two minutes of delightful music.
The tracks are mostly
compositions by C. Dunster and sometimes a co-author, but there is the inclusion
of two “traditional” pieces, Sarvane Rute Aye and Mausam
Ayenge, both featuring the expert and lovely vocals of Shruti Banu, as well
as including the unique flavor of C. Dunster’s arrangements.
Focusing on the compositions of
C. Dunster, the opening track of Chance Findings leads you right into
what this band is all about. While
presenting you with the sounds of traditional Indian music, the melodies played
by the violin and keyboards and at time even the beats are most defiantly of
Irish/Celtic origins, and you are lead into a mix that is both as unexpected as
it is appetizing.
Moonstone focuses on
guitar and keyboards, a very slow and deliberate composition, which changes over
to sarod (a classic Indian string instrument) and includes some violin and flute
and then goes back to guitar and keyboards throughout the piece. The instruments play well against each other,
forming a very moving and inspiring piece, Irish in flavor with just a hint of
Bhattigali returns to
the very unique Indian/Celtic flavor of the band, another subtle work that
features the artistry of the musicians as they highlight their mastery of the
traditional Indian instruments with their unique sound. This piece is a little more upbeat, while still being very
The track Manipuri Megh
is best described as “mystic
India meets the
mournful soul of
Ireland”. This composition is a mix of flute, guitar,
base, keyboards and santoor that causes a pause for reflection and
Circlemakers takes off in a very
Irish/Celtic direction, with accordion, pipes, guitar and violin in a very light
and dancing mood. This is a very
different piece for this collection, almost missing the Indian influence all
together, but it feels right at home here without missing a beat.
The track Changes brings
us back to the mix of Indian and Irish/Celtic with the sarod and the santoor and
guitar. Chinmaya Dunster displays in
this piece the expertise he has achieved with the sarod and this composition
displays the unique flavor this band has become famous for.
The final track Rag
Shivranjani starts off with traditional Indian sounds, the sitar, the
sarod, the drone of the tanpura and some great Indian drumming. The pace changes and is picked up about three
quarters of the way through to change quckly back again and bring this piece to
a very traditional ending for a very transitional concert.
Overall, this is an excellent
performance of the unique blend of sounds this band has to offer. It is easy to see why they have caught the
ear of some very interesting musical folks.
And not to be forgotten is the
focus of this CD, the environmental issues that have to be faced by
India. This CD is an educational tool as well as
If you have heard the other works
by Chinmaya Dunster, you will want to add this to your collection. If this is your first introduction to this
group, you are in for a very pleasant and different experience as this CD serves
as a perfect platform for this group.
And if you are a fan of Indian music, and you like Celtic flavors, this
would be a good exploration of the expert blending of these two musical
by Margaret Foster