Rise (Angel Records/EMI, 2005)
Anoushka Shankar has emerged from the shadows of her famed father and teacher Ravi Shankar in her latest offering, Rise, and journeyed beyond the musical traditions of India to create her own sound. Rise is not only a testament to her skill at the sitar, but to her mastery of composition as she composed all the songs but one with Pedro Ricardo Miño. It might be daunting to be the daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar and half-sister to Nora Jones, but Anoushka has been playing and performing since the age of nine. Rise is a departure from her previous recordings Anoushka, Anourag, Live At Carnegie Hall in 2000, and with her father on Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000, but it’s worth hearing Anoushka’s lush compositions incorporating jazzy keyboards and driving world beats.
Anoushka doesn’t discard her Indian roots, but on Rise she steps back from the sitar on a couple of compositions to opt playing keyboards instead, connecting to a different musical flow by incorporating both acoustic and electronic instruments. She also chosen some first rate Eastern and Western musicians to join her on her journey.
“Prayer in Passing” opens the CD like the first rays of sunlight but evolves slowly into an dreamy raga with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on mohan veena, Pedro Eustache on bansuri and duduk, Pedro Ricard Miño on piano, Tanmoy Bose on tabla and djembe, Bikram Ghosh on effects, Pulak Sarcar on keyboard with Shankar rounding out the ethereal composition on sitar and keyboards. Its simplicity is its sophistication.
Now “Red Sun” is something altogether different with Bikram Ghosh on percussion and Jesse Charnow on drums. The real driving force of this piece is the ‘bol’ vocals of Bikram Ghnosh and Tanmoy Bose. Shankar leaves out the sitar on this track, taking control of the keyboards instead. It’s fabulously frenetic and yet still remains clean and sharp.
Anoushka solos on sitar and keyboards in “Naked.” The almost lazy twang of sitar set against a backdrop of endless space keyboard playing creates a quiet reflective mood. Shankar makes is sound so simple and yet it’s anything but.
“Solea,” co-written with Pedro Ricardo Miño and features Miño on piano, piano strings and palmas possesses at once an almost Latin flavor until Shankar takes over on the sitar. Pulak Sarcar adds mystery to the jazzy piece with keyboards.
“Voices of the Moon” is one of my favorite pieces on the CD. It features Shankar on the sitar, Bhaskar on violin, Barry Phillips on cello, Tarun Bhattacharya on santoor, Bikram Ghos on tabla and handsonic and finally Pulak Sacar on keyboards. Rich with the depth of the tabla playing, the composition is pieced together with sitar, violin and santoor [a.k.a. santur] and is soothed by cello.
Rise is full of twists and turns of mood, but never fails to enchant. With Rise, Anoushka Shankar might have gone beyond the traditional Indian fare but her journey is full of flavor.