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Aradhna -- Amrit Vani


Andy Whitman
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Alright, I'm intrigued. More info, including samples and MP3s, here.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Aradhna came and played at my university several years ago during my senior year. Unfortunately, they were trying to set up for their concert on the same stage that we were trying to do our production week opera rehearsal. We were all a little stressed our mutual need for the same space. We made a funny scene: us in full make-up, character shoes and 19th-century Italian fluffy dresses and gondolier outfits, ready to sing boisterous high notes juxtaposed with these natural musicians, sitting on rugs in their kurtas and playing quietly meditative music.

In any case, our conflict made the whole opera company sit down and listen to them warm up and sound check for about an hour or so. It was a wonderfully refreshing hour of forced rest. I've always meant to look up Aradhna again. Thanks for the reminder!

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  • 8 months later...

This is probably of limited value, but in case any of you are considering a roadtrip to the heart of Buckeyeland, Aradhna will be playing a concert at Hughes Hall on the Ohio State University campus on Thursday, November 20th. The concert is free, although donations are accepted and appreciated. Aradhna is sponsored by International Friendships and Friends of Aradhna, the second organization being a high-falutin' title for, well, me and a couple friends.

All donations will be used to support Freedom Firm, an organization dedicated to abolishing human trafficking. If you're nearby, or even if you're not, come out to support a great cause and hear some wonderfully contemplative, uplifting worship music. And I don't write that lightly. There's very little contemporary worship music that I would describe as either "contemplative" or "uplifting."

Edited by Andy Whitman
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  • 1 year later...
  • 3 months later...

Aradhna's new album Namaste Sate is out next Tuesday. It's superb. There are still contemplative moments aplenty, still sitars and tablas, still gentle acoustic arpeggios: the perfect merger of east and west. But wow, there are some rowdier moments here that blow my mind. The last third of the album, in particular, sounds like some sort of holy merger of Sigur Ros, U2, and Peter Gabriel circa Passion. It's utterly spectacular.

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Aradhna's new album Namaste Sate is out next Tuesday. It's superb. There are still contemplative moments aplenty, still sitars and tablas, still gentle acoustic arpeggios: the perfect merger of east and west. But wow, there are some rowdier moments here that blow my mind. The last third of the album, in particular, sounds like some sort of holy merger of Sigur Ros, U2, and Peter Gabriel circa Passion. It's utterly spectacular.

I agree with Andy!

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Aradhna's new album Namaste Sate is out next Tuesday. It's superb. There are still contemplative moments aplenty, still sitars and tablas, still gentle acoustic arpeggios: the perfect merger of east and west. But wow, there are some rowdier moments here that blow my mind. The last third of the album, in particular, sounds like some sort of holy merger of Sigur Ros, U2, and Peter Gabriel circa Passion. It's utterly spectacular.

I agree with Andy!

Thanks, Josh. I often feel like I’m having a dialogue with myself about this band (Pretty good, eh dude? Yep, they sure are, dude. But stop talking to yourself.), so I appreciate the feedback.

I will reiterate what I’ve said before. I’m not really a fan of contemporary worship music, but I love this band, and what they do. In a sea of virtually interchangeable worship music, Aradhna sounds like nobody else. Nobody else could possibly sound like they do, because they write out of who they are, and who they are is an utterly unique mixture of east and west. They are Canadians and Americans and Brits raised in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They love Jesus, and they love India.

And that’s a hopeless mixture that probably dooms them to perpetual obscurity. Most Americans won’t know what to do with a bunch of hippies in weird robes who sing in Hindi, and most churches won’t touch them because Hindi sounds a lot like Hindu, and we can’t have that. But at some visceral level that can’t be fully articulated this music touches me in ways that no other worship music has ever done. It reaches me at the level of Miles Davis and Sigur Ros and Van Morrison, pretty much my holy trifecta of worship musicians. It goes deep down.

I would like to say that this is worship music for people who don’t like worship music, and I suspect that will be true for at least some portion of those who hear this album. But it’s also simply glorious music. It’s quiet and contemplative at times, other times bursting with the kind of pent-up passion that Sigur Ros delivers at the end of those long, glacially slow buildups. It’s soul music in all the best senses of the term.

I suppose, in the interest of full disclosure, that I should also admit that I’ve done some PR work for the band. But I’m first and foremost a fan, and I assure you that I’m not writing these things because I’m compelled to do so in any business sense. I’m writing them because I think they’re true, and I hope, as a fan, that more people will discover this marvelous music.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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I often feel like I’m having a dialogue with myself about this band (Pretty good, eh dude? Yep, they sure are, dude. But stop talking to yourself.), so I appreciate the feedback.
I fell in love with the trailer when you posted it last year and afterward started poking around their website looking for more. I can't wait to hear the new album-- i find something undeniably intoxicating and romantic about the whole vibe these guys put out. Edited by Greg P

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Thom Jurek

I often feel like I’m having a dialogue with myself about this band (Pretty good, eh dude? Yep, they sure are, dude. But stop talking to yourself.), so I appreciate the feedback.
I fell in love with the trailer when you posted it last year and afterward started poking around their website looking for more. I can't wait to hear the new album-- i find something undeniably intoxicating and romantic about the whole vibe these guys put out.

Andy,

I will investigate because I am intrigued and I respect what you have to say. That said, I still have to admit to treading with certain caution toward anything tagged CCM (not too mention how I feel about U2, though Passion is my fave Peter Gabriel album). Thanks for the tip.

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Thom, let me chime in to reassure you by saying that while the members of this band are all Christians (as far as I can tell), there's absolutely NOTHING about the music that has even the slightest thing in common with CCM. It is devotional music, to be sure, but it borrows the language of a number of different cultural traditions, which in my mind makes it about the farthest thing from the relative conservatism of CCM.

Partner in Cahoots

www.cahootsmag.com

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Thom, let me chime in to reassure you by saying that while the members of this band are all Christians (as far as I can tell), there's absolutely NOTHING about the music that has even the slightest thing in common with CCM. It is devotional music, to be sure, but it borrows the language of a number of different cultural traditions, which in my mind makes it about the farthest thing from the relative conservatism of CCM.

Yes. The only "CCM-like" quality of this music is that it is clearly intended for worship. But the music no more fits the CCM genre than The Christ Tree, an album from The Trees Community that I know you like a lot, Thom. Aradhna's music is utterly non-commercial. If you can think of an audience for Christian worship songs played with sitars and tablas and sung in Hindi, I'm sure the band members would like to hear about it. :) It's just lovely, contemplative music.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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Guest Thom Jurek

OK, Andy and Josh; I'm sold. I will seek these records out.

BTW: AMG/ROVI is looking for a freelance writer to review CCM records. If you cats know anyone send him my way. That's pretty much all s/he'd be doing though.

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The last time the

-- Indian

-- Nepalese

-- American

-- Canadian

-- Christian

-- Fusion

-- Folk

-- Post-Rock

(pick any three above, or invent your own label) band Aradhna played Columbus the room was filled with Ohio State doctors and professors from New Delhi and a few bemused music majors. Last week the band played to rooms full of blissed-out American yoga devotees in Canton and Toledo (who knew? But apparently they exist). And yesterday, in front of 400 people at Columbus’s Xenos Christian Fellowship, the band played to a mixed audience of curious white suburbanites and Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees.

All of them would have seen a strange sight: three white men from the U.S. and Canada who grew up in Asia, equally at home and strangers wherever they travel. It was fitting that yesterday’s concert took place at Xenos, a church named after a Greek word meaning “stranger” or “alien.” I suspect that Chris, Pete, and Travis – the members of Aradhna – understand the concept all too well. Welcome to their fractured world, guaranteed to puzzle and delight every observer. If the sight of Zondervan Jesuses in long robes doesn’t throw you, wait until you hear those sitar runs and wailing vocals that inevitably manage to find the cracks between what Western ears like to think of as “notes.” There is cognitive dissonance everywhere you turn.

There is also great beauty that manifests itself in all kinds of musical and non-musical ways. Chris Hale, who plays that sitar, and who is primarily responsible for the microtonal wailing, is one of the most gifted and humble people I’ve ever met. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the classical music of India and Nepal. But I know a shredder when I see one (a concept, no doubt, that is foreign to one brought up in the mountains of Nepal), and Chris can hold his own with any blindingly fast guitar slinger you’d care to name. He’s also a fabulous singer who can inject a miles-deep soulfulness into every song.

No matter. What he’s primarily interested in is befriending and serving a bunch of disenfranchised people who have recently arrived in the U.S. The worship service that Kate and I attended yesterday morning – the guys from Aradhna and about a hundred dirt-poor Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees – was remarkable in every way, a little foretaste of heaven. The concert was musically satisfying and uplifting and joyous. Believe me, I’ll take that. But the worship service was pure gift, something that was a privilege to witness. I’ve seen a lot of good concerts, and I’m not complaining about yesterday’s. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like the sight of three white men in long robes surrounded by a sea of people singing and dancing.

There was much more. There was a wonderful, hours-long dinner and conversation Saturday night with Aradhna and a group of friends. There was an extended time with Pete and Travis, who stayed at our house and entertained us until the wee hours of the morning. There was the concert itself, which started off with small expectations (50 people if we’re lucky, Travis told me) and ended with friends calling friends, and a laughing, swirling, singing mass of people that filled a large room. And there was friendship – good people Kate and I have known a long time, and new and deeper connections with the band we both love, and new connections with poor but not desperate people who amazed us with their joy and their sense of inclusion and hospitality.

It was a damn good weekend. I’ll have another, please.

Edited by Andy Whitman
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I have four of Aradhna's albums, Deep Jale, Marga Darshan, Satsang and Amrit Vani, but I don't really listen to their songs aside from "Jaya Dev". They are certainly a unique band and I think the work they do is good. Weirdest way to get the albums though...I had to phone a goat supply business to order the CDs...laugh.gif

He finds no mercy

And he's lost in the crowd

With an armoured heart of metal

He finds he's running out of odd-numbered daisies

From which to pull the petals

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I have four of Aradhna's albums, Deep Jale, Marga Darshan, Satsang and Amrit Vani, but I don't really listen to their songs aside from "Jaya Dev". They are certainly a unique band and I think the work they do is good. Weirdest way to get the albums though...I had to phone a goat supply business to order the CDs...laugh.gif

Really? Wow. I used to live with a family who raised goats in a very urban, crime-ridden neighborhood (Nanny was particularly tasty), so maybe that explains my affinity for the band. But I had no idea. They do have a website now, and I believe the band members personally package and ship the CDs. No goats involved. But that certainly fits in with the history and the image. They're, like, livin' off the land, man. Except when they're doing graphic design. And making music. You do what you have to do to get by, I guess. I do wish they'd sell a lot more CDs. The new album makes a play for worldwide recognition, or at least 1,000 units sold, with its conscious nods toward Sigur Ros and U2. Bono goes to Bollywood[1].

[1] No, not really. There's some Bono there, but no Bollywood at all. But it's a nice marketing slogan, and they need all the marketing help they can get. See the goat supply reference above.

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