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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Das chants peace into world with ‘Heart’

    You might not know it, but Krishna Das is a superstar — of the spiritual, yogic world, at least. With 10 albums spanning more than a decade and a long history of world tours, Das is arguably the token rock star of Kirtan chanting in the U.S. And with his new album, Heart As Wide As The World, he’s likely to maintain that reputation.

    Kirtan chanting is an ancient Indian tradition that involves a call-and-response style of participatory music. The performer of Kirtan, along with an instrumental accompaniment, sings a string of lines devoted to a certain chant, and the audience repeats.

    This music must be listened to with a certain critical hat. It can’t be judged with the regular rock-pop critical lens. Das is following an entirely different tradition. However, it is interesting how he integrates Western sound with Kirtan chant. As someone who has done yoga and heard a bit of chanting, I can safely say Heart As Wide As The World is different from other albums by Das.

    Most of his albums contain a wide array of instruments, ranging from traditional Indian instruments to the occasional bass or violin. This album is different.

    Starting with the track “”My Foolish Heart / Bhaja Govindam,”” Das sets with a new sound palette for his album. Usually performed in Sankrit, these chants include English, something refreshing and accessible for the casual Kirtan listener.

    Moreover, the album contains more varied instrumentation, including guitar, bass, steel guitar and keyboard. It’s almost rock ‘n’ roll, strangely. And while one might think it’s cliché, Das’s music is peaceful — and for its intended audience, totally fresh and exciting.

    To understand Das’s album, you have to be in the right frame of mind. Think: You just finished a tiring, but rewarding, set of music, and your teacher flips on some Kirtan chanting. Hearing tracks like “”Sita Ram”” or “”Heart as Wide as The World / Shree Ram Jai Ram”” would put you in a good mood whether you listen to spiritual music or not.

    That’s the fascinating thing about Das. He’s managed to take a highly Eastern tradition and not only make it accessible to Westeners, but also integrate their sounds with it. So while most people might not hear his music, those who do are in for a relaxing treat — no matter what you believe, it’s a peaceful, joyous listen.

     

    Grade: B

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