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Ravi Shankar - Chants of India (LP)

BMT877570

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Label: Estate Limited
Format: LP
Country: US
Released: 2010
Genre: World
Style: Indian Classical

Recorded in the south Indian city of Chennai - then known as Madras - as well as Friar Park, George Harrison's home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Chants Of India marked a landmark departure for Shankar. Though of course known around the world for his extraordinary work in Hindustani classical music, the album sees Shankar creating a collection of traditional Vedic and other Hindu sacred prayers set to music, offering his hope for peace and harmony among nature and all creatures. The renowned sitar master is joined by a number of leading Indian musicians, performing on such traditional instruments such as tabla, santoor, veena, bansuri flute, tanpura and mridangam, as well as violin, cello and harp, with his daughter, Anoushka Shankar, conducting and Harrison contributing at Shankar's personal request on acoustic guitar, autoharp, bass, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel and backing vocals.

Released on CD in 1997, Chants Of India proved both a popular and critical success, reaching #3 on Billboard's "Top World Music Albums" amidst wide-ranging international applause. Entertainment Weekly's Josef Woodard awarded the album an "A-," hailing it as an "enchanting set of Indian music based on prayers and chants...Unlike Shankar's classical raga recordings, Chants Of India is a set of short, colorfully arranged pieces, enjoyable for neophytes and devotees alike. Another jewel from a humble world-music superstar."

Chants Of India "utilizes Western instruments, classical this time, creating a sound that's akin to 'Within You, Without You' on Sgt. Pepper," wrote Goldmine's Gillian Gaar. "Because of the nature of the material - prayers to God - the emphasis is on the vocals, not the instrumentation, which makes this album especially soothing and relaxing."

Indeed, NPR Classical has named Chants Of India as one of "5 Essential Ravi Shankar Recordings," writing, "This is a very different kind of Ravi Shankar project, produced by George Harrison in 1997. Shankar took Hindu prayers, mantras and scriptural texts and framed them within larger musical settings, incorporating both Indian and European instruments along with voices. The results are transporting - and very beautiful."

With Chants Of India, Ravi Shankar and George Harrison complete a musical and spiritual journey that began in the '60s. Combining new compositions, arrangements of ancient Indian chants and inspired instrumental performances, Ravi Shankar has created a body of music that consoles and inspires the human spirit.

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