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

Hossam Ramzy: Sabla Tolo IV (ARC Music)

Hossam Ramzy: Sabla Tolo IV (ARC Music)

Percussionist, arranger and producer Hossam Ramzy has appeared frequently at Elsewhere, and been interviewed. From Egypt, he is one of the few Arabic musicians whose name might be... > Read more

Didjitalis: Australian Trance Dance (Arc/Elite)

Didjitalis: Australian Trance Dance (Arc/Elite)

Many years ago (read: decades if you wish) I spent a little time studying and listening to didgeridoo music and the various cultural references it had: I thought it was a fascinating instrument,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Chicago Transit Authority: Free Form Guitar (1969)

Chicago Transit Authority: Free Form Guitar (1969)

This band -- who later shortened their name and became simply "Chicago" -- have appeared at Elsewhere previously with their thunderous and extended version of the old Spencer Davis Group... > Read more

GUEST ARTIST JOSEPHINE CACHEMAILLE on her new exhibition and current practice

GUEST ARTIST JOSEPHINE CACHEMAILLE on her new exhibition and current practice

I am interested in making objects, paintings and installations that provoke questions about our magical thinking tendencies. Magical thinking refers to causal reasoning that looks for... > Read more