Anandi Bhattacharya: Joys Abound

March 19, 2019

Sonic Cornucopia

Listening Post 193. Avatar, shampoo, pyjama, bungalow, veranda, nirvana—all words from India adopted into an array of western languages. Sharing works both ways: Kolkata-born singer Anandi Bhattacharya observes, “I do not believe I was meant to imbibe my own culture alone.” A child prodigy who began studying Indian classical music at age three, she was also exposed to the global sound spectrum through traveling and performing with her father, Debashish Bhattacharya, a pioneer of Hindustani slide guitar; and uncle Subhasis Bhattacharjee, a tabla master. The nine songs on Anandi’s debut solo album are ragas in their essence—evoking joys of spirit, passion, nature and memory—but they also carry borrowed flavors, including jazz and flamenco, plus Bollywood touches. Her voice is a sonic cornucopia, a fount of resonance and color. She sings in Hindi and Bengali and also extracts meaning and mood from non-lexical rhythmic syllables that dance, float and intertwine with her instrumental accompaniment (by father, uncle and Catalan clarinetist-composer-singer Carola Ortiz, among others). Examples (video 1): In Between Us, a potion of syllables forming a magical language; the tempered bliss of Amaro Porano Jaha Chay (What My Heart Desires), by Bengali poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore; and a refreshing monsoon storm of strings, percussion, voice and clarinet in A Pluviophile’s Dance (Sawani). Anandi chants to the gods in her opening and closing tracks—Jai Ganesh, an exhilarating spiritual ode to the elephant-headed deity and his many names (video 2); and Radha Enraptured (Soi Lo), a song-trance dedicated to Krishna’s lover (video 3). In Migration of Colours (Bulería Comes to Holi), aided again by Ortiz’s clarinet, she brings Iberian rhythm to the Hindu spring festival. Processing a cross-cultural collection of elements through her extraordinary creative sense, Anandi Bhattacharya offers an album of wonders and reveals herself as an avatar of fusion. (Riverboat Records/World Music Network)

Joys Abound credits
Anandi Bhattacharya: vocals

Debashish Bhattacharya: Chaturangui, Anandi, Gandharvi and electric slide guitar

Subhasis Bhattacharjee: tabla, djembe, percussion

Carola Ortiz: vocals, clarinet

Tapas Roy: oud, rubab, dotara, mandolin, charango

Ratul Shankar: percussion

Avik Ganguly: keyboard, pads

Charu Hariharan: cajon, mrindagam

Naomi Jean: vocals, percussion, flute

Hyatt Khan Lange’s Troupe of folk musicians from Jodhpur: dholak, sarangi, khartal, morsing, alghoza


Video 1: Excerpts from In Between Us; Amaro Porana Jaha Chay; and A Pluviophile’s Dance

In Between Us
From the album notes: Composed by Debashish Bhattacharya, vocal expressions, extempore exchanges between Chaturangui, tabla syllables and beats, Anandi, Debashish and Subhasis weave magic as they converse in language of pure joy

Amaro Porano Jaha Chay/What My Heart Desires
From the album notes: In this song by Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, Anandi ekes out the passion of a love-laden lady while her father gently treads on a melodic path with a syncopated rhythm and slides on the Chaturangui typifying the Tagoreana of Bengali culture

From the Bengali lyrics:
All that my heart desires/Is you, just you
That which my heart desires/Bereft of you, of this world
There is no one for me, nothing for me/That which my heart desires

If you have yet to find your peace/Go forth in search in happiness
I have found you in my heart/There’s nothing more my heart desires
That which my heart desires/Is you, just you
That which my heart desires

Without you I lie desolate/In thoughts of you shall I reside
The long days, the longing nights/The years and the months that pass
If elsewhere you find your love/If to me you never return
May you have what your heart desires/And I shall bear all the sorrow
That which my heart desires/Is you, just you
That which my heart desires

A Pluviophile’s Dance/Sawani
Hindi folk song

From the album notes: A peppy composition by Debashish Bhattacharya, the flavours of a Rajasthan monsoon are abundant in this song. Anandi’s voice swirls and exuberates where sand dunes embrace the raindrops in joy. Collaborators are Hyatt Khan Lange’s troupe of folk musicians from Jodhpur and Ratul Shankar on percussion.


Jai Ganesh/Triumphant Ganesh
From the album notes: A joyous invocation [in Hindi] to Lord Ganesh, seeking enlightenment by chanting his many names, the spirited rhythm takes flight from Anandi’s soulful singing with her illustrious father Debashish and uncle Subhasis providing accompaniment on Chaturangui and tabla. Composed by Debashish for his daughter, the song also features Charu Hariharan on the mridangam (south Indian drum), Subhasis on tabla and Carola Ortiz on Clarinet


Radha Enraptured/Soi Lo
A Bengali folk song composed by Debashish that takes the listener in a trance beyond the barriers of language and culture. Radha, the lover of Lord Krishna, brings out myriad facets of the higher echelons of love, where mortals become one with the Almighty. Anandi beautifully portrays the vows of love in the deep recesses of the heart




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