Land of the Buddhas
A compilation of Chinmaya Dunster’s favourite songs from all his CDs on New Earth Records. Plunge into the Indian subcontinent and into the Land of the Buddhas! If you have ever pondered over which CD to buy from Chinmaya’s collection, this is the one!
The video includes a one-minute music clips of each track, illustrated by amazing never-before-seen footage I shot all over India and more.
Track 1: Rag Shivranjani.
This is my live performance on sarod (a nineteen-stringed banjo-like instrument) of Hindustani classical music, based on improvisations within this five-note raga. Accompanying me is Manish Vyas (an impressive musician and composer in his own right) on tabla, the double Indian hand drums. Manish and I go back to the late 80s in the Osho Commune, Pune, where as a teenager he was already showing his skills as a tabla player. We have performed together numerous times over the past two decades, and there is always magic in the combination!
Track 2: Right Samadhi.
From my CD ‘Feng Shui – the Eightfold Path’, illustrating the Feng Shui energy ‘Fire’ associated with the South, summer, radiance, the colour red. I played all the instruments on this CD, except on this track, the bamboo flute, played by the well-known composer and musician Shastro. We recorded this at his home in Maui, Hawai’i. The temple sounds were recorded amongst Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala.
Track 3: Gir Forest.
This recording dates back to the mid 90’s, when I made a trip to Gujurat, to the last home of the Asian lions at Gir. A tiny temple in the forest inspired the composition. Sangit Om, another well known composer and musician, plays the harp on the keyboard. I added Bikram Singh on flute many years later. I feel it is one of the sweetest melodies I ever came up with!
Track 4: Bhairavi.
This features one of India’s top sitarists, Niladri Kumar, who co-composed the whole CD ‘Yoga Lounge’ from which this track is taken. I remember going to Mumbai to record him, pre-prepared with some traditional tabla patterns for him to play on top of. “Oh, no,” he said, “If I play to tabla I feel the old masters looking disapprovingly over my shoulder! Give me some modern drum grooves!” So I whipped out some hip-hop beats from the drum machine, and afterwards decided to keep them, with elaborations, on the final CD, hence the unusual mix of classical sitar and hip hop!
Track 5: Natrani (Queen of the Dance).
Here Bikram Singh, bamboo flute maestro from Manipur on the Burmese border, gives one of his most outstanding performances. His free improvisation on top of the chord pattern and melody of Gerhard Fankauser (spanish lute player, and collecter of traditional Indian devotional chants) is, to me, sheer joy to listen to. Even today I can’t quite figure out how, with the primitive recording equipment I had at my disposal back then in 1999, I managed to put together such a juicy groove and backing!
Track 6: Full Moon.
From the CD Buddha Moon, this long track is basically improvisation on Rag Bhairagi, by Bikram Singh and Amano Manish (Indian slide guitar). Karunesh (well-known international composer) provided the groove, in a rare appearance on clay pot, and I added guitar harmonics and effects later. The mood evokes the tranquil full-moon night of Buddha’s enlightenment.
Track 7: Chance Finding.
My Celtic Ragas Band live at the ‘Concert for India’s Environment’ in Pune, the year after we played for Paul McCartney’s wedding in Ireland (I dedicated this track to him and Heather Mills on my CD Karma Circles – not it seems the most effective of good wishes!). The song has become associated as the theme tune for my widely shown film ‘Concert for India’s Environment’, an awareness raising project that has ramified in many directions over the past five years.