Mystical North Indian prayers
Ranjana Ghatak is a fascinating merger of cultures and ideas. British born and raised, Ranjana heard Indian singing in the home. She went to see Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty (a classical Hindustani vocalist) live as a teenager and was so ignited with passion over the music, she trained in his music school in India. That’s what I call dedication. Following spending time in San Francisco, ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is her debut album that fuses together Indian vocals with North Indian guitar music and some light western embellishments. It is a unique album.
‘Kali’ opens the album beautifully with a swirling guitar and cascading vocal. Ranjana’s voice effortlessly climbs scales and flexes around the guitar which defiantly chugs on. The song is about letting go of what doesn’t serve you and the whole piece feels cathartic. This duality of electric guitar and voice is what carries the entire album forward. It is quite a daring and potentially sparse effect but it never feels dull. ‘Hidden Tombs’ adds bass to underscore finding strength in hidden depths within. Title track ‘The Butterfly Effect’ beautifully positions a rippling guitar effect around Ghatak’s voice as noise feathers out over the distorted guitars. Hand claps raise the intensity up as the waves get bigger. It is quite a piece.
‘Kabir’ is a gorgeous acoustic piece and the first real solace on the album. It reminds me of Japanese green folk artist Yae and perhaps Rikki Nakano. Ranjana is able to create wistful and warm melodies and her voice gives an aura of wisdom and knowledge through its smoothness. The album continues to move towards the smoother and more devotional roots of Indian music as it progresses. For instance, closing track ‘Surya Prayer’ is an ode to the sun and features a shimmering organ note and slow bass notes that fade in and out like faint clouds. Ranjana Ghatak calmly prays with the softest Om’s and you could use the track for meditation. The chirpy ‘Yaman Tarana’ is playful with simple hand slaps. Single ‘Mirabai’s Krishna’ is a sister song musically to ‘Hidden Tombs’ and features warm, lush guitars and bass. The lyrics are taken from Mirabai, a 16th Century mystic. She used to write poems alongside healing people.
There is a lot of history and culture hidden within ‘The Butterfly Effect’, from guest composers to teaching to lyrics to instruments. They are all sown together in the mysticism of Ranjana Ghatak and her beautiful voice. This album is one that will grow on you over time as I found more to discover upon each listen. It is really quite unique and feels both timeless and timely. A wonderful delve into Hindi music.
Recommended track: Kali
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