Tabla player and producer Talvin Singh has assembled a uniformly rich variety of electronic music on record, usually in collaboration with other musicians. On Vira
he joins Rakesh Chaurasia for a meditative journey through the heart of the Indian musical tradition. It's an exception for Singh, and he's surprisingly effective in this acoustic context: a return to roots, if you will.
While Vira (which means "brotherhood") may bear Singh's name first, it's equally if not predominantly a document of Chaurasia's rippling bansuri performance. The two musicians improvised these five duets in a London studio, and their intuitive musical relationship becomes apparent after just a few notes. These ragas, drawn from the North and South Indian classical repertoire, explore a range of talas (meters) from 7 to 16 beat cycles. The only studio production is an unobtrusive layer of synth drone which serves to replace the traditional held tones of the tamboura.
Delving back into Chaurasia's recorded output, his musical stance becomes increasingly clear. Discs like Trinity, Eternity, and Serenity bear a decidedly meditative focus, and the bansuri player assumes a similarly reflective posture on Vira. If you look for pyrotechnics, uninhibited virtuosity, or showmanship on this record you'll be disappointed. But on the other hand, this music is anything but lightweight. The richness of timbre and delicacy of rhythm on Vira act as magnetic forces which draw the listener along for a yearning quest for inner peace.
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Personnel: Rakesh Chaurasia: bansuri flute; Talvin Singh: tabla, effects.