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Anoushka Shankar - Breathing Under Water

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Breathing Under Water

Anoushka Shankar, Karsh Kale

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Breathing Under Water is a different animal altogether. Karsh Kale and Anoushka Shankar co-wrote eight of these 13 cuts together. Another, "Easy," was co-written with Norah Jones -- Shankar's half sister -- and sung by her. Father Ravi wrote a two-part tune with his daughter and appearshere as well. The other big name guest is Sting (it's a payback for Shankar playing on a few tracks of his in the past). Shankar (sitar, keyboards) and Kale (guitars, keyboards, live drums) wind Indian classical music, rock, electric atmospheres, and a load of loops and beats (break and otherwise) with a host of collaborators who include the great arranger and pianist Salim Merchant (who also conducts the Bombay Cinematic Orchestra Strings on a few pieces), Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on his mohan vina, vocalists Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan, and Vishal Vaid, and chamber players on bansuri, sarangi, and other traditional instruments, and programmers of various stripes. What's striking is that while one can imagine how this might sound, because of other attempts at doing the same thing, the end product would frustrate those anticipations to a large degree. Certainly electronic music is deeply rooted here, but so is the sitar, so is rock, so is Western classical music -- sometimes all in the same tune. It's exotic, but it's a another thing too, which feels like, well, coming home. The Sting track ("Sea Dreamer") may have fared better without his breathy vocals intruding. That said, the piano and vocal performance by Jones on "Easy" is what sets it apart -- no matter what one thinks about her singing, she really stretched out here and makes it seem effortless -- and makes it an inseparable part of the fabric of the album. "A Perfect Rain," with Mahadevan singing, is a thoroughly modern track in every way, but his gorgeous traditional vocal adds real depth and dimension to the other aspects of the sounds created here. The blend of guitars, drums, sarangi, layered keyboards, loops, and live drums is gorgeous. Elsewhere, on the instrumentals such as "Little Glass Folk," Shankar's sitar work is sublime, tighter and more focused than on her other recordings. With orchestral percussion by Kale and Merchant conducting the strings in Western classical fashion, it's deeply moving, and even breathtaking in places as it emerges seemingly from the ether and travels from West to East as the two musics come together in something wonderfully cinematic and enchanting. The two-part "Oceanic," on which Ravi plays, is fantastic. It takes up a little over eight minutes, the first half with Ravi improvising over Merchant's string orchestra -- so moving and beautiful it's beyond all written language. The second part is a duet between the Shankars with accompaniment from Kale on tabla, Ajay Prassana on bansuri, and Pirashana Thevarajah on mindangam kanjira, with Merchant conducting the strings once more. The lyricism here is profound, spiritually moving (and not necessarily in a theistic sense of the term). The final cut, a brief interlude called "Reprise," is just Shankar on her sitar, Kale playing piano, and Merchant's wonderfully understated strings. As the record comes to whispering close, it begs an analysis as to why Breathing Under Water works so well. The answer is that Shankar came on far more aggressively here. Her discipline and sense of harmony and melody are very sophisticated, and she's always downplayed them on her own recordings. Kale, on the other hand, is not so heavy-handed in his writing, playing, or production work, perhaps because he is in the company of so many fine musicians, Merchant not least among them. This is lush and elegant music; it defies genres and pigeonholes. But it is also new, made from many old approaches as well as modern ones. Breathing Under Water is nothing less than delightfully -- and sometimes powerfully -- unique.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Breathing Under Water

Anoushka Shankar

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1
Burn
Anoushka Shankar
00:05:43

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Author, Piano, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, String Arranger, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, String Arranger, Drums, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Drum Programming, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Programmer, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Nishant Peralta, Author - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Noa Lembersky, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Shekhar, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Dilshaad Khan, Sarangi, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

2
Slither
Anoushka Shankar
00:06:24

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Keyboards, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Pedro Eustache, Ney Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Programmer, Synthesizer, Drum, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Pirashanna Thevarajah, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Tapan Raj, Programmer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

3
Breathing Under Water
Anoushka Shankar
00:02:29

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, String Arranger, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Sunidhi Chauhan, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

4
Sea Dreamer
Anoushka Shankar
00:05:40

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Author, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Sting, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bojan Dugic, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Author, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ajay Prassana, Wooden Flute, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

5
Ghost Story
Anoushka Shankar
00:05:47

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Keyboards, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Sunidhi Chauhan, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Pirashanna Thevarajah, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Indira Verma, Author

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

6
PD7
Anoushka Shankar
00:07:20

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shankar Mahadevan, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Drums, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Drum, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Oliver Palomares, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

7
Easy
Gaurav Raina
00:03:28

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Author, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Brian Montgomery, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Norah Jones, Composer, Author, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chad Lupo, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Composer, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

8
Little Glass Folk
Anoushka Shankar
00:05:13

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Keyboards, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Composer, String Arranger, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Pedro Eustache, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Cymbals, Keyboards, Percussion, Snare Drum, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Sound Effects, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

9
A Perfect Rain
Anoushka Shankar
00:04:28

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Keyboards, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shankar Mahadevan, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Drums, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Ajay Jhingran, Author - Gaurav Raina, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Dilshaad Khan, Sarangi, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

10
Abyss
Anoushka Shankar
00:05:22

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Sitar, Tanpura, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals, Drum Programming, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Gaurav Raina, Composer, Programmer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ajay Prassana, Wooden Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Todd Michaelsen, Author - Vishal Vaid, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Ullhas Bhapat, Santoor, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

11
Oceanic Part 1
Anoushka Shankar
00:04:07

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, String Arranger, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ravi Shankar, Composer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Pirashanna Thevarajah, Percussion, Mridangam, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ajay Prassana, Wooden Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

12
Oceanic Part 2
Anoushka Shankar
00:04:40

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, String Arranger, Piano, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ravi Shankar, Composer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Drums, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Drum Programming, Tabla, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Pirashanna Thevarajah, Percussion, Mridangam, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Akshaya Pandit, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ajay Prassana, Wooden Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

13
Reprise
Anoushka Shankar
00:01:22

Anoushka Shankar, Composer, Sitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Salim Merchant, Strings, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Calbi, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ben Moore, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Stewart, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Karsh Kale, Composer, String Arranger, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Gaurav Raina, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gautam Kaul, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jayant Luthra, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Aftab Khan, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Satya Hinduja, Recording Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - The Bombay Cinematic Orchestra, Strings, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2007 The Blue Note Label Group ℗ 2007 The Blue Note Label Group

Album Description

Breathing Under Water is a different animal altogether. Karsh Kale and Anoushka Shankar co-wrote eight of these 13 cuts together. Another, "Easy," was co-written with Norah Jones -- Shankar's half sister -- and sung by her. Father Ravi wrote a two-part tune with his daughter and appearshere as well. The other big name guest is Sting (it's a payback for Shankar playing on a few tracks of his in the past). Shankar (sitar, keyboards) and Kale (guitars, keyboards, live drums) wind Indian classical music, rock, electric atmospheres, and a load of loops and beats (break and otherwise) with a host of collaborators who include the great arranger and pianist Salim Merchant (who also conducts the Bombay Cinematic Orchestra Strings on a few pieces), Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on his mohan vina, vocalists Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan, and Vishal Vaid, and chamber players on bansuri, sarangi, and other traditional instruments, and programmers of various stripes. What's striking is that while one can imagine how this might sound, because of other attempts at doing the same thing, the end product would frustrate those anticipations to a large degree. Certainly electronic music is deeply rooted here, but so is the sitar, so is rock, so is Western classical music -- sometimes all in the same tune. It's exotic, but it's a another thing too, which feels like, well, coming home. The Sting track ("Sea Dreamer") may have fared better without his breathy vocals intruding. That said, the piano and vocal performance by Jones on "Easy" is what sets it apart -- no matter what one thinks about her singing, she really stretched out here and makes it seem effortless -- and makes it an inseparable part of the fabric of the album. "A Perfect Rain," with Mahadevan singing, is a thoroughly modern track in every way, but his gorgeous traditional vocal adds real depth and dimension to the other aspects of the sounds created here. The blend of guitars, drums, sarangi, layered keyboards, loops, and live drums is gorgeous. Elsewhere, on the instrumentals such as "Little Glass Folk," Shankar's sitar work is sublime, tighter and more focused than on her other recordings. With orchestral percussion by Kale and Merchant conducting the strings in Western classical fashion, it's deeply moving, and even breathtaking in places as it emerges seemingly from the ether and travels from West to East as the two musics come together in something wonderfully cinematic and enchanting. The two-part "Oceanic," on which Ravi plays, is fantastic. It takes up a little over eight minutes, the first half with Ravi improvising over Merchant's string orchestra -- so moving and beautiful it's beyond all written language. The second part is a duet between the Shankars with accompaniment from Kale on tabla, Ajay Prassana on bansuri, and Pirashana Thevarajah on mindangam kanjira, with Merchant conducting the strings once more. The lyricism here is profound, spiritually moving (and not necessarily in a theistic sense of the term). The final cut, a brief interlude called "Reprise," is just Shankar on her sitar, Kale playing piano, and Merchant's wonderfully understated strings. As the record comes to whispering close, it begs an analysis as to why Breathing Under Water works so well. The answer is that Shankar came on far more aggressively here. Her discipline and sense of harmony and melody are very sophisticated, and she's always downplayed them on her own recordings. Kale, on the other hand, is not so heavy-handed in his writing, playing, or production work, perhaps because he is in the company of so many fine musicians, Merchant not least among them. This is lush and elegant music; it defies genres and pigeonholes. But it is also new, made from many old approaches as well as modern ones. Breathing Under Water is nothing less than delightfully -- and sometimes powerfully -- unique.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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