Healing Ragas III

Music Reviews

Chinmaya Dunster reviews Manish Vyas’ latest album (released today!)

Manish Vyas Healing Ragas III‘Music for meditation, relaxation and beyond’

This third Healing Ragas offers few surprises for anyone familiar with the first two. Manish’s genius for catchy hooks is again in evidence. The little melody lines that the two long pieces return to occasionally are simply lovely. Milind Date’s haunting flute does make some quirky ventures outside the expected and the production and mixing quality bring a depth to the soundscape that is refreshing. The music is in stripped down Hindustani classical raga form, minus the intricacies of taal (rhythmn cycles) and with the addition of soothing pads. It will, like its earlier editions, no doubt admirably suit it’s function as background music for sessions and relaxation.

I have been a fan (and friend) of Manish now for well over a quarter of a century – from the late 80’s in the Commune in Pune, when he was a teenage tabla wizard, which was the only option as accompanist for people like myself dedicated to Hindustani classical. Through his first trip to Europe in ’94, when we drove together from the airport up to Hamburg (and laughed at his comment as we encountered our first autobahn traffic jam: “Wow, Germany is just like India after all!”) to record the first in a series of CDs we did together for Nightingale Records over the next two years. To the 2000 festival in the Commune, where three extraordinary live Buddha Hall performances cemented his reputation as an utterly original musical creator: one with Prem Joshua, where we first saw Manish on vocals and santoor as well as tabla; one as co-ordinator and keyboard player of a live Mahamudra meditation (which I had the privilege of mixing and mastering for release as the official soundtrack for the meditation, but which was subsequently not chosen) that brought together a galaxy of the best sannyasin musicians of the day under Manish’s direction. And then came ‘India Trance’, with a similar star studded line-up, featuring his skills as a songwriter in Hindi, an album he released privately and is now a rare and sought-after CD.

After our fun trip together to play for Paul McCartney’s wedding in Ireland in 2002, I rather lost track of Manish (except for brief meetings) during the noughties, as he toured with Prem Joshua and then Snatam Kaur and moved from Pune to Mysore. However, his wonderful ‘Water Down the Ganges’ (2002) with Joshua and then his first solo CD ‘Sattva’ (2003) kept me entranced. He played tabla on a couple of my CDs via email and quietly released several of his own albums on White Swan where he experimented with mantras. His collaboration with flutist Bikram Singh, as the duet Mandala, resulted in three CDs for Malimba Records, including the first two ‘Healing Ragas’. And now we have a third!

Chinmaya DunsterChinmaya is a regular contributor – chinmaya-dunster.com

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Available from www.malimba.com

Listen to the second track Awakening

Manish and MilindManish Vyas grew up in a sannyas family in Gujarat, India, and was initiated into sannyas in 1978, when he was just 7. In 1986, Manish moved to Pune originally to study engineering, but instead became involved in the music department of Osho’s Commune. He played live for Osho together with musicians from all over the world. This period helped his musical horizon expand. Manish has since performed, recorded and travelled with Prem Joshua, Chinmaya, Snatam Kaur, Shastro, Praful, Sudha, Maneesh and many other musicians. He has also composed mantras for Deva Premal. manishvyas.com

Milind Date is a senior disciple of the bansuri maestro, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, and one of the most versatile Indian musician. Trained in the guru-disciple tradition, Milind provides the perfect space of meditative music enriched with devotion and silence. milinddate.com

Milind and Manish have often played together in the Osho Commune International for kirtans, sannyas celebrations and other meditation events. This is the second album where Milind accompanies Manish, after the previously released Atma Bhakti.

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