Chinmaya Dunster reviews Sambodhi Prem’s long awaited new album.
The Fall of Winter is an ambitious creative project, involving a high level of musicianship and varied sonic textures. It has taken seven years to complete, with musicians from around the world to add to Sambodhi Prem’s initial structures.
I remember recording my sarod part in his charming cottage in the Waitakare ranges just outside Auckland. He left me absolute freedom to interact with the simple guitar lines he had recorded for me to play along with. The result (on track six ‘Revisiting the Moon’) is a sort of ‘Zen blues’: thirteen minutes of improvisation with just a minimum of theme to keep it all hanging together.
This extended improvisational feel continues with Kalyan’s cello on tracks three (‘I met Nobody Only Silence’) and seven (‘Harlequin Lights’). These orchestral-sounding pieces are the basis for Kalyan’s moody and emotional bowing.
There are Chinese-y sounding touches throughout the album, with David Jones’s prominent use of cymbals and gongs and Genevieve Walker’s violin on the title piece echoing the timbre of the traditional Chinese bowed erhu.
The album’s range of genres, while staying close to the relaxing New Age paradigm, also includes a touch of jazz with Nadje Noordhuis’ flugelhorn dueting with Sambodhi’s guitar on track two ‘Liquid Gold, Touch and Go’. Brilliant Nepali flautist Manose on bansuri rescues what threatens to turn into a musak-y arrangement of the song ‘No Footprints in the Blue Sky’. And it ends with ‘Effervescence’, reminding me of an experimental film score, driven by David Jones’s rhythms.
I personally miss some space and transparency throughout (Sambodhi’s lovely solo piano, accompanied by stroked bell and chimes on ‘The House Where Nobody Lives’ is the exception). I would have liked to hear more of his delicate trademark finger-picked guitar, as well as the individual sound of each of the guest musicians, without being distracted by elaborate background.
Yet, overall, the album remains a very involving and stimulating journey through rich soundscapes.
Review by Chinmaya Dunster
Listen to Title track of ‘The Fall of Winter’
Sambodhi Prem is a devotional singer-songwriter, writing from his experiences on the path of meditation and of playing in Osho’s presence (we might remember his song, ‘As the stars in the sky…’). He has recorded many instrumental titles, released on European and American music labels and, in 2011, together with his life partner Sandipa, he released the album of songs ‘Circle of Light’. He lives in Central Victoria, AUS. sambodhiprem.com