Music Issue 79 Jul, 2010
Text by Ivan Sada

Pancha Lama is a bamboo flutist. He has made a name for himself as an instrumentalist and has created Nepali music to its finest. Born in Saralahi, eastern Nepal, Pancha made his professional debut in 1985 and has performed for movies, dramas and Radio Nepal. He released his first and second album titled Chautari and Jharna in 1996 and 1999, respectively. He has performed live in world festivals and other numerous musical concerts to achieve his aim: introducing Nepal music to the world.

Pancha’s third album Yatra, is a collaborated album featuring Japanese and Nepalese musicians: Hiroyuki Minami (guitar), Hiroki Takeda (bass), Akira Horikoshi (drums), Sae Konno (piano), Nabaraj Gurung (tabla), and Santosh B. Shrestha (israj). He leads the entourage with his serenading bamboo flute.

Yatra means a journey and the tracks in the album indeed take you on one. The album is meticulously crafted and the music is acceptably arranged. The flavors of Japan and Nepal come through one’s listening throughout, and the outcome deserves applause. The album was composed imagining a chautari; a bench for travelers and traders and a resting place for villagers while traveling long distances, or a place for a moment’s rest for any who desires.

The first track, Morning Breeze, begins with a harmonious intro of the israj and flute. It is a moody blend and takes you to a morning in the plains in a reggae rhythm. Interestingly, if one gets into its groove, one can imagine the lush green fields and the life of the plains. The second track is entitled Yatra, and will help you envision the early traders of the mountains. As a Nepalese version of the Silk Route, the music is well supported by the bass guitar and is excellently arranged by Pancha himself. Sound Chattering, the third presentation, is louder than the previous instrumentals, yet it gets your feet tapping. With an eastern music impression, the instruments blend healthily together to create a notion of instruments prattling. Himalayan Bossa Nova is simple and rhythmic with awesome support of the drum and piano. It’s jazzy and careful with all notes.

Silent Joy, the fifth track, sounds raw while listening, but the overlapping of two bamboo flutes in different octaves is superb. The support of the dhime (traditional skin drum) makes the tune simply a silent joy. The last two melodies, Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse, feel melancholic and might make some wonder if the lunatic moon indeed impresses our being. In totality, Yatra is worth buying. It not only introduces Nepali music in an instrumental form, but also illustrates the talent of Pancha Lama. Enjoy.

Available at: Kathmandu Music Center, Thamel. Contact: 4259968