Long-time collaborators and friends, Sheema Mukherjee and Simon Richmond (The Imagined Village / Afro-Celt Soundsystem), took a journey across India to explore local music and experience various approaches to wellbeing. These encounters formed the foundations of the forthcoming spa treatment across Lush stores and this evocative and searching new album on ECC Records.
Sheema Mukherjee recently collaborated with Paul Weller for his The Royal Festival Hall shows and has previously wored with Billy Bragg, Cornershop , Martin and Eliza Carthy, Robert Plant, Noel Gallagher, The Copper Family, Tuung, Benjamin Zephaniah.
Simon Richmond brings his individual take on electronica, familiar to Mo-Wax fans as Palmskin Productions and his contributions to the iconic HeadZ compilations. As a producer, Simon has written, produced, programmed and played live for artists such as Neneh Cherry, REM, Gabrielle, Youssou N'Dor, The Imagined Village, David McAlmont, John Metcalfe.
Along the way, they would collaborate with the desert-dwelling Manganiyar musicians from Rajasthan, the Pullavan Vena of the forest people of Kerala, classical vocalists and instrumentalists and a choir of schoolchildren among others, as well as taking time to meet and learn from massage therapists, perfumers and Ayurvedic doctors.
Sounds of the vibrant outside world permeated everything, including the house in Kerala, which Sheema and Simon turned into a recording studio. Sitting in the diffused light of the shuttered room they played keyboards and sitar, and structured their ideas for the music and massage, ready to be developed when they got home. The vibrancy of the surrounding sounds, however loud and bustling or gentle and serene, formed part of the unique soundscape.
Writing and recording music in India with the people they met proved to be another study of opposites; an enriching collaboration of folk instruments and studio technology. When Sheema and Simon presented a musical workshop, the children were delighted to see traditional sitar used in combination with digital recording equipment.
“We were staying outside Jaisalmer when we made contact with Channan Khan, who was to introduce us to the Manganiyar musicians. We drove with him into the Rajasthani desert until we arrived at a sun-scorched village. We were seated under the only tree for miles around as musicians with their instruments started to arrive, some on flatbed trucks, others on bikes, some emerging out of the desert on foot. Each performed their own traditional songs: songs about their environment, songs of loss, religious and cultural songs, and of course love songs.”
Finding harmony and peace in chaos resonated. The teeming cities of India, the gentle backwater villages, the serene hillforts and the stark desert outposts, the dirt and the noise, the silence and the pure, the music, the beauty, the ancient and the modern were all inseparable. And like an umbrella over all of this were the traditions: the temples and the festivals, the principles of everyday health and maintenance of balance, of keeping the body in tune and of finding calm within the tumult. These are the ideas that the treatment and its music try to evoke.
1. Inward Journey
5. Jaipur Night Trains
8. Lammebada Kirwani
9. Trivandrum's Children
10. Elephant Village
12. Riverbank Radio
14. Jalaal Finale
15. Final Meditation
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