Srdjan Beronja and Various Artists: The Sounds of Varanasi (Arc Music)

 |   |  1 min read

Dadra: Raga Mishra Khamaj
Srdjan Beronja and Various Artists: The Sounds of Varanasi (Arc Music)

Given the stealthy return of concept albums in rock, we welcome this entry from world music where -- if the title suggests people bellowing in your ear, taxi horns honking incessantly and smiling man asking "Where are you from?" -- the subtitle is more telling: A Unique Sound Journey Through the Holy City.

Serbian percussionist/composer Beronja -- who adopted Varanasi as his home while he learning Indian classical music -- here constructs a dawn-to-dusk exploration courtesy of field recordings of prayers and ceremonies, as well as more formal recitals by sitar and violin player Pt. Dhruv Nath Mishra and others.

It opens with a brief Morning Mantra by some old men (and green parrots) in a field and  ends of course with an Evening Mantra by singing holy men and the short  evening rage, Raga Bhairavi, by Mishra and tabla player Ravi Tripathi.

Beronja -- or his record label -- is astute enough to rein in the atmospheric pieces to just snippets (none more than two minutes, and don't really need more than the 44 seconds of monkeys scrapping over a piece of roti bread).

But the music is often beguiling (Pahari Dhun with bansuri flute player Hari Poundwal) and the field recordings throughout collection bring an atmospheric authenticity to the hour-long journey towards nightfall.

So this isn't the high end of raga but rather postcards or missives from a day in the holy city where you get to hear chants recorded in alleyways or on ghats, and the happy noise of drums at a wedding.

Real life, in other words.

A worthy, if marginal project, where Arc's liner notes fill in details of the locations, styles and instruments.

Share It

Your Comments

James Bradfield - Feb 21, 2016

I have stayed at Ravi Tripathis guest house in Varanasi and had the pleasure of listening to him play at length with other talented musicians . A brilliant tabla player

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

Badma Khanda Ensemble: Mongolian Music from Buryatia (Arc/Elite)

The European Arc label is doing God's work in this world by bringing to light music from Eastern Europe right across to the shores of the western Pacific. Already in its ever-expanding catalogue it... > Read more

Manu Dibango: Afro-Soul Machine (Metro Select)

Manu Dibango: Afro-Soul Machine (Metro Select)

In the rush to embrace new artists out of various parts of Africa or distill the history down to reissues of little known acts and the cult of Fela, it probably isn't a surprise the great Manu... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Hilary's pumpkin, feta and spinach salad (from Flip Grater)

Hilary's pumpkin, feta and spinach salad (from Flip Grater)

Flip Grater is a Christchurch singer-songwriter who, in late 2006, took to the road to promote her album Cage For A Song. On the trip she picked up vegetarian recipes which she has now put into... > Read more

THOMAS KENEALLY INTERVIEWED (2010): The people's historian

THOMAS KENEALLY INTERVIEWED (2010): The people's historian

To put it bluntly, Sarah Whitelam didn't muck around. The day after John Nicol sailed off for Britain – the man with whom she'd had child and promised to remain true to in the days before... > Read more