By Ankush Arora
After a gap of four years, German multi-instrumentalist and composer Prem Joshua, in collaboration with producer Chintan, returns with his latest east-west fusion album ‘Kashi’, the ancient name of the Indian holy city of Varanasi.
‘Kashi’ is a devotional album that deploys contemporary Western music to create a language that – apart from being entertaining – has a transcendental quality to it. While revisiting India’s ancient hymns — shlokas or mantras — Joshua’s trance-like voice and the accompanying nuanced vocals turn “All Roads Lead to Om” into a spiritual adventure.
“All Roads Lead to Om” — om being the mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin — is the only full song from the latest album available on Joshua’s Facebook page. But a quick zap-in-zap-out of Kashi’s other songs can be heard here.
The music is evocative and addictive. Joshua’s magical sitar, as usual, takes the lead and it’s neck-and-neck play with the flute is mischievously seductive. The new album features Sanou Olszewski delivering the Western vocals while Hamsika Iyer‘s voice is heard in the Indian ones.
“I compose music with the sitar. From there it evolves. When you listen to my tracks and strip all the Western sounds, you will notice that it is raga-based. That is the very core—always,” said the musician in an interview to The New Indian Express.
Joshua’s interest in alloying India’s traditional music with that of Western innovation dates back to 1977, his first visit to the country that exposed him to its vast culture. That bond has culminated in 15 fusion albums — each unique in its own right — over the course of two decades.
His latest album will be released on August 5, according to the official website.Also read — Prem Joshua & Chintans KASHI: Songs for the India Within Set for Release on August 5th from White Swan Records (On Twitter, I am @Ankush_patrakar)