Interesting how over the years different trends sweep the music world including new age and world-fusion music -- Celtic, nouveau flamenco, solo piano, solo acoustic guitar, Gregorian chants, space music. Now we seem to be in the midst of a sanskrit chants boom. You can hear them solo or with simple acoustic or complex synthesized backing sounds. Everyone whoever taught a meditation or yoga class seems to be getting in on the action. So it is pretty hard to stand out of the crowd.
Which is a long introduction to a new album by Nadaka & Gopika called Surya Chants of Light. This recording definitely rises out of the pack for several reasons. First, this husband-wife team went to the trouble to learn and sing these very old vedic mantras following ancient tradition (Gopika studied the correct pronunciation and intonation for four years at a university-level ashram). Second, the backing music (except for some scattered percussion) is made by longtime guitarist Nadaka on his unusual raga geet-tar which is an acoustic guitar with a bunch of other drone-strings and cross-strings added so he can make the sounds of various old instruments from India that are used in raga music. It sounds sort of like Pink Floyd meets Shakti in the background (there is one instrumental tune, by the way).
But generally the recording sounds fairly traditional. Like virtually all chanting, certain key phrases are repeated over and over, but there is enough variation to keep it fairly interesting, although sitting down and studying this type of music is not really the point. Best to let it wash over you and simply soothe your soul. Just like it has for the past four-thousand years.
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