Chinmaya reviews Prashanto’s recently released album.
‘Prayer to the Wild’
by Prashanto (Susan Ann Jones)
8 tracks – total 63.91 minutes
CDs available from ragasusan60 (at) gmail.com (includes an illustrated song/lyric booklet) – spotify.com – store.cdbaby.com – play.anghami.com – amazon.com – amazon.co.uk – amazon.de
This must surely be a world first: original poetry in English sung in the ancient Indian classical dhrupad style. Prashanto’s CD is a labour of love, presented exquisitely with her own evocative paintings as illustrations. Her poetry is mystical pagan, full of references to devas and faeries and the wonders of nature.
Dhrupad is a notoriously difficult style and Prashanto has spent decades studying and teaching it. She has chosen some demanding ragas too, not only to perform but for the untutored Western ear to absorb. For me the sections of the CD that work best are the long, slow, rhythm-less alaaps, where Prashanto’s voice settles into the middle range and we can concentrate on the nuances of each raga as well as the lyrics.
This is certainly not background or easy listening music but deserves a careful listen out of respect for the audacity that went into conceiving such a unique combination of traditions. And for the integrity and authenticity of the composer, poet, singer and painter who has manifested it. Out of the box. Bravo!
Prashanto launched the album on 27th April, in a beautiful Hampstead church, with the support and sensitive brilliance of four of the musicians on the album; her partner Khoji on drums and vocals, Felix Padel on violin, viola, tampura and voice, Julian Littman (who recorded and produced the album) on guitar, vocals, harmonica, mandolin and percussion, and Ian Herbert on clarinet.
Instead of the musician’s bio, customary at this place, we have published her life story: Under the influence of Welsh, Yiddish and Indian music