Shantamo reviews the latest album by Deva Premal & Miten with Manose, Joby Baker and Spencer Cozens.
I like to watch good soccer. FC Barcelona, the reigning European champion, has some of the world’s most talented soccer players in its ranks. At times it looks like they enjoy so much the pleasure of ‘What can I do with a ball’ that they lose view of the trainer’s master plan. Are you wondering what this has to do with a music review?
Deva, Miten, and Manose are champions in their field. They are world famous now. According to their website, ‘Songs for the Sangha’ is currently the #1 seller on the iTunes and Amazon World Charts. Fame has a dynamic of its own. People may buy the album because all their friends did so, a Yoga studio owner may play it to stay up to date with her clients’ expectations. At the focal point of so much attention and anticipation, to stay true to artistic integrity and to the clarity of living out of awareness seems quite a challenge to me. Deva, Miten & Manose go on mastering it. They reinvent themselves with each record they make.
Following them over the years, I have noticed a development towards more and more inclusion- of East and West, of various musical styles. I think it comes out of their own process of integration as well as from a wish to reach a wider circle of people with their music. More precisely: with what their music transmits.
So how do they fare this time?
This one is a group undertaking. Deva and Miten invited Joby Baker, who plays bass as well as many other instruments, and keyboard wizard Spencer Cozens to their house near Byron Bay, Australia. Spending several weeks together, they gave birth to ‘Songs of the Sangha’.
‘Sangha’ is a Sanskrit word to describe the community of seekers that gathers around a Master, in this case Osho while he was in India and the USA. Songs from this Sangha are part of several tracks of the album. They merge with ancient Mantras and with the mainly instrumental contributions of Joby Baker and Spencer Cozens. A similar stream of meaning unifies the various elements. With this new integration, the Sangha widens; it includes all who listen to DPM and sing with them.
With the advance of the years, Miten’s voice has lost some range. The sincerity of his expression more than compensates it: when he sings: ‘we are one’ he means it. Mostly, Deva is not in the foreground; her voice is one element of the group sound. She does sing some richly instrumented Mantras. Manose is turning into a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He contributes the sweet ‘Karuna’, a song he wrote for his little daughter.
A sumptuous, interwoven, multi-layered sound characterizes the album. Audibly the musicians shared a deep creative process together.
I remember hearing Osho say that in the East, ancient Masters created music to give a voice to silence and so open another avenue into meditation. Mantras have this quality. I do not think that outside of India music originated in the same way. Nowadays, only a limited number of people understand classical Indian music, so to present Mantras integrated with western styles (Reggae and Blues seem to be Miten’s favorites) has the potential to share the treasures of tradition with a much larger audience and to give them new roots in present times.
Blending Sangha songs, Mantras and sophisticated musical expression into one, works in their live shows. Deva’s and Miten’s presence and vibration carry the vision that I sense is behind this. On this record, I have the impression the group got carried away by the artistic possibilities at their disposal and landed in the musical equivalent of the FC Barcelona situation.
There is a lot to enjoy here! Innovative music transmitting a vast vision. Superb musicians who create fascinating soundscapes together. However, to my ears, some tracks end up in a kind of consciousness soup. A glorious Ganges of music lusciously meandering towards the ocean.
Although at the core the message is always present, the supremely esthetic expression, without a compelling artistic vision, waters it down somewhat.
I missed songs written by Miten. Deva announced in concert that Miten is planning to release an album with his songs next year. I look forward to it.
For fans a must.
When you buy because your friends have it, you did yourself a service. The music is beautiful, the heartbeat of awareness present throughout.
For those only wanting the best in their collections I would say: listen to the album at a friend’s place and then decide for yourself.
Review by Shantamo, Osho News