Sangit Om reviews Chinmaya Dunster’s latest album.
The 13 tracks of Rarities are rare gems. Their conception spreads over a period of 25 years and come from the mind of an extremely gifted and inspired musician and composer. Even the older tracks still sound fresh and timeless due to the fact that they are almost exclusively performed by inspired, alive and gifted human musicians, i.e. with just the odd sampler here and there. The tracks of Rarities unfold themselves as testimonials of a type of creativity that comes from deep within and that knows no limits.
When I listened to this album many memories popped up in my head. I first met Chinmaya in 1992 in Gut Hübenthal (Parimal), Germany, which is still one of the largest sannyas centres in Europe. It was my job to do the recording for Chinmaya and Sangit Sirus’s co-production Spiral Dance. Chinmaya was mainly playing the sarod, presenting his compositions and conducting the band. I still vividly recall the highly inspiring and creative atmosphere and, although I was officially hired as a sound engineer, it turned out that I played my first track on the bansuri (Indian bamboo flute) on a publicly released recording. Always looking for ways to merge eastern and western music, I suddenly was in the middle of some folks who did exactly this, as if they had never done anything else! And Chinmaya, with his great sarod playing and his unique talent to merge Indian and Celtic influences, enriched my ‘inner musical world’ in a big way.
After this remarkable first encounter, Chinmaya came to my studio in Hamburg where we mixed all those tracks for the final CD. It was not an easy job because the recording sessions had been as inspiring as they had been chaotic! But as Osho has often said: “Out of chaos stars are born.” We succeeded, and this was the beginning of a lasting friendship.
I don’t recall how often Chinmaya came back to my studio to produce his next CDs. Many times… And I hardly remember all the musicians he brought with him; Manish Vyas (tablas, percussion and santoor), Saddhu Bolland (accordion and vocals), Vidroha Jamie St Clair (guitarist and composer), Babu K. Alam (tablas), Naman M. Leuschner (trumpet), Freidmar Hitzer (violin), Gros Ngolle (bass) and many more.
I was often overwhelmed by Chinmaya’s creative boost; hardly being able to set up the microphones quick enough to find free recording tracks to keep up with the flow. On top of this Chinni (as we used to call him) invited me to play keyboards, flute and other instruments. And as if this was not enough; he insisted to do things I thought were impossible. He asked me at one time to create a sample-loop from the sound of the small stones that fall inside a rainmaker (a percussion instrument simulating the sound of falling rain). I thought this could not be done, but he kept insisting and it turned out to be an awesome effect on his Feng Shui production.
But as things go, there came a time when we lost track of each other. I moved to Crete and Chinmaya travelled around the globe and spent many years in India, creating more music. But then one day he showed up in Crete! He came into my studio with his laptop and asked me to play some Cretan lyre, flute and other instruments for his various projects. The story continued… I think this was in 2009, and the following year he invited me to India where I played several concerts in New Delhi with his Green Raga Band. And now, since the means of the internet is making it possible, we collaborate whenever we feel like.
Although the commercial media-world is making it more and more difficult for musicians like Chinmaya to succeed, I deeply trust that this kind of creativity will always find its ways.
Review by Sangit Om for Osho News
Listen to track 9, Intimacy, on Osho News
Chinmaya Dunster was born in 1954 in England. He started playing the classical guitar at 15 and took up the Hindustani classical instrument sarod in 1984. He took sannyas in 1982. He has 13 CDs released (3 of them under ‘Bhakti’ and ‘Akasha’) on which he has been joined by musicians from the world of Osho. Chinmaya is also involved with environmental / social justice issues in his adopted homeland, India, and creates awareness-raising films on these issues. He lives in New Zealand with Naveena and their six-year daughter Koyal. www.chinmaya-dunster.com
All articles, music tracks and reviews by this author on Osho News
Rarities – rare and unreleased recordings 1990-2015
1) Sufis and Gypsies – with Volodya Asriev (violin), Manish Vyas (tabla), Prem Joshua (dilruba) and Ravi Freeman (guitar and keyboards), from ‘Terra Incognita: Tribal Gathering’, Tao Music, 1992. 5.42
2) Mountain – with co-composer Manish Vyas (tabla and santoor), Sangit Om (bansuri) and Sadhu Bolland (accordion), from ‘Feng Shui Part 1’, Nightingale Records, 1996. 4.32 *
3) Spirals – with co-composer Sangit Sirus (oud and setar), Shantam (bansuri) and Manish Vyas (tabla and santoor), unreleased, 2000. 5.41
4) Shivranjani in 7/8 – with co-composer Vidroha Jamie St Clair, Manish Vyas (tabla) and Friedmar Hitzer (violin), from private release ‘Behind the Veil’, 1993. 2.46 *
5) Celebration Medley: The Fool and the Full Moon (originally with Vidroha Jamie, from private release ‘Behind the Veil’ 1993, re-recorded 2015); Les Jardins de la Mousson (originally from ‘Lands of the Dawn’, Nightingale Records, 1995, re-recorded 2015); Himalayan Celebration – with Prem Joshua (sax) and Babu K. Alam (tabla) from ‘Terra Incognita: No Goal But the Path’, Tao Music, 1990). 3.44
6) The Ocean (extract) – with Manish Vyas (tabla), Sadhu Bolland (accordion) and Sangit Om (bass and production), from ‘Feng Shui Part 1’, Nightingale Records, 1996. 3.19 *
7) Fire – with Manish Vyas (tabla and harmonium) and Naman M. Leuschner (trumpet), from ‘Feng Shui Part 1’, Nightingale Records, 1996. 4.10 *
8) Relationships – with co-composer Manish Vyas (tabla and santoor), from ‘Feng Shui Part 2’, Nightingale Records, 1996. 7.27 *
9) Intimacy – with co-composer Manish Vyas (tabla) and Freidmar Hitzer (violin), from ‘Lands of the Dawn’, Nightingale Records, 1995. 4.26
10) Isles of the Blessed (remix) – with Freidmar Hitzer (violin) and Sangit Om (keyboards, programming and production) from ‘Lands of the Dawn’, Nightingale Records, 1995. Short intro from Kaunsi Kannada with co-composer Vidroha Jamie St Clair (guitar), from private release ‘Behind the Veil’, 1993. 5.35 *
11) Riversong – with Sadhu Bolland (lyricist), Surahbhi McMellahn (vocals) and Gros Ngolle (bass), unreleased, 2000. 3.17 *
12) Joy Song – with Anand Richa (co-composer and vocals), unreleased, 2010. 4.40
13) I Dream of a World – with Anand Richa (co-composer and vocals) and Kavi (guitars), unreleased, 2010. 3.54
* tracks recorded, mixed and co-produced with Sangit Om (Stefan Petersilge) in Hamburg 1993-6