This album is a mixed bag of fusion and pure Nepali folk. Fusion music has come a long way in Nepal. Every now and then we get albums that are innovative and breathe new life to this genre. A part of “Journey to Himalaya” does belong to this category; if only the rest had been as imaginative. This album has brought together well-known musicians like Shyam Nepali (sarangi), Manoj Singh (flute), Sunil Bardewa (guitar), Navraj Gurung (tabla), Baburaja Maharjan (percussions) accompanied by Umesh Pandit (flute), Gopal Rasaili (guitar), Shanti Raymajhi (percussion) and Bikram Gandharva (sarangi). Quite an impressive line-up this!
The album gets off on a good note with a lively fusion of sarangi and flute solos accompanied by guitars and tabla. The sounds have been mixed exceptionally well. The sarangi dominates, yet leaves space for the other instruments to play their part. “Happiness” is a superb track with a flute solo accompanied by an acoustic guitar and punchy tabla playing. The melodic guitar progressions do wonders and complement the flute while the tabla infuses a sense of urgency. Much Latin influences can also be perceived in the guitar and tabla playing styles. Western, eastern and latin characteristics have given the music a unique feel and packs quite a punch.
Just when you’re enjoying the innovation, the sarangi players fall back on their simple repertoire of Nepali folk and a few Adhunik songs like Arun Thapa’s hit song “Jati Maya Layepani” which has strangely been given an English title. “Lamjuma Dai” infuses vocal music that comes and goes. The female voice is joined in by a deep male voice, almost like a mantra. “Terai” is a melancholy tune on sarangi that portrays the general feeling in the terai at the moment. Guitar accompaniment eventually returns with “Sarangi & Soul” adding a new dimension to the melancholy melodies on sarangi. A bit of experimenting marks the closing track “Himalaya”. This mixed bag leaves you with mixed emotions. Could have been a great fusion album; If only!
Courtesy: Muzik Lounge, Thamel,