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Land of the Buddhas

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Album Review

The fluid runs of the Indian sarod suggest weightlessness and flight, a fitting sound for an artist who intends to convey the transcendent experiences of meditation. This compilation of British sarod player Chinmaya Dunster's best work displays the successful template he established early on and has employed on over a dozen albums for the New Earth label. Dunster uses Indian classical instrumentation and raga-like structures, softened slightly for Western ears, either by the addition of more traditional pop melodies ("Right Samadhi"), gently strummed steel-stringed guitars ("Gir Forest"), or resonant programmed drones ("Bhairavi"). A chanted "ommmm" runs through the captivating "Natrani (Queen of the Dance)," making it a natural accompaniment for meditation, yoga practice, or massage. Dunster is also more than competent as a traditionalist, deftly performing the popular "Rag Shivranjani" and aping a traditional raga on "Full Moon," a lengthy, trance-inducing work for bansuri. A lilting Celtic influence buoys "Chance Finding," a sweet melding of raga and reel that displays Dunster's wide influences and confidence in multicultural experimentation. Sticklers for cultural authenticity may not be entirely satisfied, but fans of new age music with a little bite to it will enjoy this career retrospective.

Land of the Buddhas, Chinmaya Dunster
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