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Sacred Chants of Ancient India: Various Artists
Incorporating the best of four volumes’ worth of material from previous releases, Sacred Chants of Ancient India (Kosmic Music) is a meditative experience that mixes strains of Western popular music with Eastern devotions. The chanting-singing of various Vedic chants (by talented female vocalists) soar above ambient piano, shimmering strings, and synthesized drumbeats.
One can hear ancient Indian mantras and chants, some of which have been passed down generation to generation into modern times. It’s important to remember that the presentation of these sacred offerings, is strictly contemporary. The album features singers using mostly contemporary instruments, offering new readings of these timeless prayers.
According to the liner notes, “Gurupaduka Stotram,” the opening track, “guides you to live life to its fullest, possessing an enlightened mind.” It floats on a great bed of melancholy strings; simple, melodic violin lines alternate with a chorus of doubled voices chanting with serene but focused clarity. “Shivashtakam” is a beautiful almost folk-rock style melody that would not be out of place on a Nick Drake album.
Each track’s chant and musical accompaniment is designed to activate or celebrate an element of Vedic knowledge, as in “Mritasanjeevana Strotram,” which is, according to the liner notes, a prayer to “Rudra… a phenomenon, personified, which causes us to be delivered from pain.” Even if you have no idea what the words they are chanting/singing mean, you will feel their power as they surge and dance against the sometimes unbearably sad, lovely Western instrumentation beneath it. This is a worthy compilation for any music collection.