Sometimes, in order to get somewhere good, you have to climb a little. From the very first few notes of “Stairway to Nirvana” by Samir Bodhi, however, we realize this is going to be an easy, effortless, and most thoroughly enjoyable ascension.
“Stairway to Nirvana,” Samir’s debut album as a New Age artist/producer, is 5 tracks, 25 minutes of pleasure and bliss. The music is a fusion of Eastern Indian classical music and contemporary New Age music. It’s actually more than that. And it’s beyond “really good.” It’s excellent. It’s even beyond excellent. Let’s just say, it’s appropriately titled. It’s ALL going on my playlist when the album releases on January 15, 2021.
The album opens with the very tranquil, “Tranquility.” Incorporating synth strings, flute, tabla, and sarod as a lead melody instrument brilliantly performed by Rajeeb Chakraborty, this is structured, melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, and beautifully produced. Flowing, like a languid river of honey, it leads us right into tranquility without further ado.
Following is the more meditative, “OM.” This is also outstanding. Both the music and the chanting are hypnotic and uplifting. The flute, guitar, and a droning tanpura add additional sweet and tantalizing textures. The beautiful vocal invites us to not only find inner peace, but to strive for lasting global peace as well.
“Harmony” is just that. There’s an excellent rhythm pulsating underneath exceptional, haunting electric guitar and other flawlessly incorporated instrumentation in this meditative track. Really, really good in every aspect. It’s a smooth, jazzy, “East meets West” kind of piece.
Now, before we get to “Peace” and “Nirvana,” here’s a little background on the album and the world-class musicians who are on it.
Originally, the project was titled, “Samir & Friends.” This is important because these “friends” are all big, well-known creative contributors inside India’s musical culture. I’m including some information about them at the end of this review. But, as I said, from the very first notes, you know already that no one is messing around here.
As well, Samir, himself, is not only a world-class musician, but a tenured professor. He’s an internationally recognized scientist and scholar, known in academia as Samir Chatterjee. His wife, Madhumita Chatterjee, who guests on the album, is a popular Bollywood star who has sung with Eastern Indian singing legends such as Anup Jalota and Kumar Sanu. In 2019 she earned the WFF Signature Series award in Hollywood.
Samir, a naturalized citizen of the United States, was deeply disturbed by the divisive events that occurred in the world in 2020. One of the goals of this album was to bring peace, harmony, healing, and unity to the world. The music does not disappoint. The album is a fantastic fusion and foray into the “New Age,” and I only wish we had more tracks here.
“Peace” is an enjoyable folk-rock sort of piece featuring a heartfelt vocal sung by Madhumita Chatterjee. The song implores us as a global collective to come to a place of universal peace.
The album closes out with “Nirvana.” This feels like a journey through life moving toward enlightenment. The song features and elicits many atmospheres and textures, with the sarangi and electric guitar winding in and out in perfect harmony. Underneath is the beat; the heartbeat of life. Excellent.
Can we really have heaven on Earth? Seems so.
There is something really different, enchanting, and enticing about this brief album. It’s vibrating pretty high. We need this kind of nirvana. I’m hoping we are going to hear more from Samir and friends very soon. This is a transcendent experience.
And by the way, in addition to Samir’s own musical contributions on “Stairway to Nirvana,” I’m including some of the other credits here, so you get the idea of the quality of this music.
- Guitarist/arranger Sanjoy Das (Bapi) is a leading session and live guitarist in Bollywood.
- Flutist Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of flute maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia
- Sarod master and composer Rajeeb Chakraborty is a renowned musician, educationist, composer, and conductor
- Sarangi player Pankaj Mishra has performed as a solo artist and accompanist throughout India, and toured abroad
- Suvodeep Mukherjee, is a specialist in north Indian classical and raag-based songs. He has released 40 albums to date.
- Lyricist Rajiv Dutta is a popular Bollywood songwriter and is one of the most sought-after wordsmiths in Kolkata and Mumbai.
- Mixer Biswadeep Chatterjee is an award-winning sound designer, sound editor, and audio mixer.
- Madhumita Chatterjee (Samir’s wife), is a popular Bollywood star who has sung with legends
Album release: January 15, 2021
Official artist website: https://www.samirbodhi.com/
LAZZ Promotions (Ed & Stacey Bonk)
E-mail: [email protected]
Publicity and social media promotion:
THE BCOMPANY, Beth Hilton
Email: [email protected]