A Trip Down Your Inner Ganges
Planning a holiday at some calm, remote place, far from daily pressures and tensions? Put off that trip and instead allow the ethereal music and meditative chants of Prem Joshua’s “Water Down the Ganges” to fill your ears and tranquilise your senses.
Prem Joshua (PJ)… The artist’s name itself arouses curiosity and suggests an unusual intermingling of cultures, with Prem appearing to be Indian and Joshua sounding Western. A multi-instrumentalist and composer, PJ excels in the art of playing instruments such as the soprano sax, bansuri (Indian flute), sitar and the tanpura. His music blends melodies and rhythms traversing the boundaries of the East and the West. Thus, Indian instruments, traditional music and chants combine with creative western compositions to produce highly energetic and meditative pieces. Welcome to the world of New Age fusion music!
“Water Down the Ganges” is Joshua’s album with Manish Vyas, another master multi-instrumentalist and composer. Joshua and Vyas, musical partners for 15 years, have performed in concerts all over the world and share a similar musical vision that is rooted in the traditions of both East and West.
The first piece exhibits much Sufi and Persian influence and is aptly titled Habibi, meaning “beloved.” Sawari is a continuation of Habibi with some captivating drumming. Here Joshua excels with the soprano sax, while Vyas proves his prowess with percussion instruments.
The title track Water Down the Ganges is, without doubt, one of the best pieces in the album. The subtle sitar, accompanied by deep meditative humming, has the potential to relax even the most stressed minds.
Ferryman’s Tale infuses a sense of joy, of celebration of life, of smiling faces, which the first showers bring after a long, dry spell.
The flip side has four tracks impressively interwoven with each other. The santoor, well balanced with the sitar, stands out in Trust. Moon Song invokes vivid visions of nightfall, the music slowly moving at the languid pace of night.
Almost imperceptively, Moon Song gradually progresses into the next piece Ganga Pooja. This track pays homage to the Ganges with a beautiful mantra, one of the main attractions of this album. With Nisha (night), the album reaches a conclusion amid the sound of crickets and an amazing jugal bandi by Vyas and Joshua.
It’s remarkable to note how the compositions vary in pace and yet maintain an uninterrupted flow. The music advances effortlessly and overrules the senses. Transitions between pieces are smooth, with the sound of swirling waters in-between tracks contributing to an illusion of a boat ride down the Ganges.
A masterful rendering of the music in this album offers a rare treat to the listener. The music invades your being and speaks to your soul at a different level each time it is heard. Thus, a new and unique experience awaits you each time the music is heard. Music of this caliber is rare indeed.
The compatibility of Joshua and Vyas stems from the fact that both performed many years under the guidance of the famed spiritual guru Osho (Rajneesh), Their styles complement each other comfortably. Listeners can comfortably absorb that compatibility through their pocket. I, for one, just cancelled my personal holiday to opt for a trip down my inner Ganges with this album.
This review was originally published in The New Indian Express (Chennai)