Music Reviews — 20 January 2019

Punya reviews Anugraha’s new album: a plunge into uplifting rhythms and joyful, playful melodies.

The Early Bird by AnugrahaPurely by chance I came to know via a post in Facebook that Anugraha has come out with a new album. I followed the link to Bandcamp. After the first 10 minutes I was invited to purchase the album and did so without hesitation. Now, whenever I need a pick-me-up I put on my headphones and listen to ‘The Early Bird’.

The music comes across like a mild summer’s day at a village fair, splendid weather; your best friends around, no worries in the world – pure delight. Although musically different from what we used to play in Music Group in Pune 2, it has the same upbeat tempo expressing the same joy of life. It’s bluesy, groovy and jazzy world music, filled with lovely uplifting melodies. Each track a surprise.

Anugraha tells me that after the birthday concerts given by Miten, together with Deva Premal and Manose in Corfu last year, something shifted in him. “On those three evenings I just sat there like a Buddha and let myself be flooded by the energy and the music – and a colorful bird took me on its wings. It was not only a wonderful experience but an initiation into something new to come. Since then every day I just sit and the journey goes on by itself!”

When he returned to Switzerland he sat down, wrote the scores, prepared the percussion tracks and invited Praful, whom he had met for the first time in Corfu. Praful’s sax seems to have found just the right soil to bloom and groove. It all seems so easy and playful, like cruising down Main Street, with coolness and no effort. We are lucky he is present in almost all, except for the last three tracks, where we hear Eva Wey’s precise and driving violin in The Journeyman and The Triumph that give them a country-Irish, but still original, flavour.

The last track, The Guest, is practically a solo on Anugraha’s guitar. So far on the album we have known him as the pumping rhythm guitar, or the cool solo guitar, but here he displays a virtuosity I would not have expected. The piece still manages to come across as a simple sharing, nobody showing off anything. A perfect closure for the album. After all the dancing it is time to sit down and just listen.

Of course I have a favourite track, The Circus, and have asked Anugraha to share it with our readers. Unsurprisingly, the solo guitar is great, but what caught me the most is its rhythm. Actually, I feel that the quality of the rhythm throughout the album has something special that give it a bounce and an up-lift – so much in contrast with what we usually hear where we feel the beats are hitting us straight on our heads.

Anugraha tells me that the CD has been crowdfunded. “I had only 4 weeks to reach my goal of Fr. 8900 (EUR 9000). I still cannot believe that we managed to get the funding together with merely 100 supporters, and on time! Such generosity!”

I first met Anugraha – albeit only virtually – when I designed the website for Govinda Express, a Swiss Kirtan-Cuban band that he had co-founded with percussionist Veetkam. This was over 10 years ago; the band has been dismantelled in the meantime, leaving behind their quite successful two CD’s, One World Ticket and Songs of Joy and Silence. From that time I came to know that he was a music teacher and producer with his own studio near Zurich. At present he is also involved with ClinTonics, a seven-man-strong band performing Country music by Delbert McClinton.

‘The Early Bird’ will stay for quite some time as one of my favourite instrumental albums on my playlist. It’s a dive into a juicy, healthy, sane world where the heart is in its right place.

Review by Punya

A taster: the tack The Circus

Available as CD or downloads from anugraha.bandcamp.com

AnugrahaAnugraha started playing classical guitar when he was eight years old. As a teenager he learned to play the blues, in the streets and from friends. As a young sannyasin he played in Music Group and Sufi Dance in the commune and composed music for Satsang. At 38 he started his own guitar school in Switzerland and later his own studio where he works as a composer and producer. fredifrueh.chsoundcloud.com

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