Friday August 10, 2007
Into The Light – Mandolin Meets Contemporary Sounds (U.Rajesh)
As U.Rajesh opens Shadows after a brief, evocative piano prelude by Anil Srinivasan, I literally felt the ground beneath my feet moving. Was it that tinge of Latino? Or was it Rajesh blending a carnatic phrase in line 3? It is sheer magic! The blue’sy Sunrise is equally blissful. Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s Annapoorne is pristine with that piano base and while Reflections starts off on a slightly populist note, the mandolin part that reminds me of something old and nostalgic that I couldn’t quite place my finger on, is spell binding. Rainwalk, is a bit gimmicky with the natural rain sounds but the mandolin passages blend beautifully. Saraswati is the raciest track of the album due to the innovative rhythm structure and balances the two instrmentalists with consummate ease. The ghatam enhances the allure of Sacred Fires considerably while Devi offers a fascinating Mandolin variant of the Sindhubhairavi classic, Venkatachala nilayam. This is by far the most satisfactory album I have listened to this year. I’m personally not a huge fan of instrumental music barring an occasional Chaurasia or L.Subramaniam. But, I should thank Meera Jasmine for bringing Rajesh into mainstream media and leading me to explore his work!
Keywords: Mandolin Srinivas, U.Srinivas, Mandolin Rajesh
Note: I bought this album online via emusic. But, there seems to be some confusion about the number and names of tracks in this album. Rajesh’s own website has a shopping page powered by indiamusicinfo and lists only seven tracks with a set of different names barring Saraswati and Annapoorne. Just to clarify, Ganga is Reflections, Vaishnavi is Sunrise, Padmavathi is Rainwalk, Mahamaya is Devi and Jagravi is Shadows. I’m not sure why this naming confusion exists! To listen to this album, before you eventually decide to buy it, try Raaga!