Sunday, March 11, 2012

CD Review – Awakening: Raga Bhairava, by Dan Blanchard

A lot of musicians dabble in Indian music, but not Dan Blanchard. A student of Indian classical music and santoor for nearly a decade, as well as a certified yoga teacher and therapist and soon-to-be ayurvedic practitioner, Blanchard takes his art seriously. The result is an album of Indian classical music as authentic as if it were done by one of the Indian masters themselves.

Blanchard designed the music on this CD as an accompaniment for morning meditation and spiritual practice, and it sounds as if it is ideally suited for that purpose. This is due to the authentic nature of the music itself. Blanchard plays classical Indian instruments such as the santoor, harmonium, tanpura, and swarmandal. He is also backed by Nisha Narsai on vocals, Sheela Bringi on bansuri flute, Sangeet Mishra on sarangi, Gabe Marihugh on udu and djembe, and Brian Campbell on tabla.

Due to the serious, disciplined classical nature of the music, its appeal beyond yoga and spiritual applications will most likely be geared towards more discerning and open-minded listeners. This is not popular Bollywood music. However, the last two tracks, “Transformation” and “Integration,” which feature Narsai’s beautiful voice, have an East-meets-West sensibility that will be of interest to those familiar with the Indian music explorations of George Harrison, Andy Summers, and 2002.

Blanchard has poured his heart and soul into creating a masterful, high-quality recording that, because of his sincerity, passion, dedication, and talent, takes its rightful place among the classics of artistic and spiritual Indian music.

--Raj Manoharan

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