Gaia’s Garden by Chinmaya Dunster

Music Reviews

Chinmaya Dunster’s most recent CD out with New Earth Records

Gaia's Garden coverChinmaya’s first new release on New Earth in four years takes us on a path both familiar and new: familiar, because the acoustic instrumentation, the sweet warmth of the melodies, and the loving vibe are classic Chinmaya territory. New, because his listeners are not used to be being based so solidly in Western, rather than Indian musical landscapes. For once it is not his usual sarod but his guitar playing that carries us along with him, picking and synchopating along in the background while a galaxy of stars entertains us up front. These include Anand Richa, whose poignant lyrics in Hindi are pretty much the only overtly Indian element to the CD; guitarists Govi, Sambodhi Prem and Kavi, Israeli violinist and oud-player Yair Dalal; Cretan lyra master Sangit Om; an Arab ney player, a classical cellist… the list goes on.

The first track, ‘Cloud Forest Sanctuary’, shows us exactly how such a fusion is going to work. We’re in the Blues, except the instruments are Arabic, and evocative birdsong recalls the Amazon basin. ‘Springing From the Mountains’ and ‘Under a Smiling Sun’, the next two tracks, are my personal favourites; Chinmaya’s guitar bubbles with life and enthusiasm, the guitar solos from Govi and Sambodhi Prem are gems, and we feel carried along with the music on a tide of benevolence.

Track 4 and 5, ‘Ocean Emotions’ and ‘Rainstorm’ take us into more edgy country. Both pieces are based around virtuoso violinists (Western and Indian respectively), while Chinmaya’s compositions explore the varied moods of these unpredictable elements.

6 ‘Blessing from the Ancient Trees’ is gentle Pink Floyd with a touch of Hindustan; 7 ‘Savanna Scene’, a track that – like its namesake – somehow manages to seem both teeming with life and spacious at the same time; 8 ‘Blue Sky Meditation, an atmospheric combination of New Age piano and Chinmaya’s sarod; while 9 ‘Desert Winds’ feels like the Blues again, perhaps as played in some nomads tent!

The final track might be my favourite after all (a reviewer can change his mind I guess!). ‘The Disappeared’ honours those many creatures that humankind has wiped from the face of the Earth with a melody whose touching pathos seems to me to match exactly the sadness felt in contemplating extinction.

Chinmaya and his friends have created a unique musical tribute to the planet on which we live. Never clichéd, always original; gentle but never saccharine; evocative but avoiding melodrama – this CD expresses something of the rich tapestry of life in the varied landscapes of Gaia.

Sw Prem Kabir, Osho News

Listen to samples: chinmaya-dunster.com
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Chinmaya DunsterChinmaya was born in 1954 in England and started playing the classical guitar at 15. After taking sannyas in 1982 he took up playing the sarod. The Osho Commune in Pune provided him the ground for musical experiments over the next quarter century until, today, he has 13 CDs released on New Earth Records and a further four (three of them under the band names Bhakti and Akasha) on Malimba Records. Chinmaya is also involved with environmental / social justice issues in his adopted homeland, India, which takes him around India with the Green Ragas Band. He also creates awareness-raising films on these issues. He lives in Goa with his partner Naveena and daughter Koyal. chinmaya-dunster.com

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