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Album Review

"Mudra" is a Sanskrit word that means "hand gesture." In Buddhism, mudras represent particular practices or beliefs; in the Vedic rituals of ancient India, they are integrated into traditional dance forms. For the album Mudra, multi-instrumentalist and composer Prem Joshua collaborated with keyboardist Maneesh de Moor to create a series of ten pieces inspired by different mudras; as usual, the music is a rich mixture of Western and Eastern elements, combining bamboo flute and sitar with synthesizer and breakbeats of various kinds. The most successful tracks on Mudra are those that lean more toward the Eastern than the Western stylistic pole — on tracks like the smooth-funk "Wild Gunghu 1" and the jazzy "Darbari N.Y.C.," there's a rather saccharine sweetness to the music that undermines its effectiveness. "Saffron Dreams" is more ethereal and ambient, and "Banyan Tales," which features the tabla playing of Prem Joshua's frequent collaborator Manish Vyas and is perhaps the most explicitly Indian piece on the program, ends the album strongly. Mudra is enjoyable enough, but it's not the strongest title in Joshua's catalog.

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Mudra, Prem Joshua
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