Impressive Sarod maestro Avra Banerjee’s new album "Manoyatri" reflects the legacy of Indian classical music.

By Melissa Ryan 

Avra Banerjee, in collaboration with 22 artists from multiple geographies across India, USA and Australia, presented their highly anticipated album titled “Manoyatri”: The Mind Voyager” which artfully and beautifully navigates the realms of western classical and Indian classical music.

The rich cultural heritage of Indian classical music and musical instruments continues to be celebrated in India and around the world. The Indian classic music system is composed of a large number of what we would call scales, the "Ragas", which are played at certain times of the day or year, and evoke very particular moods among listeners. For Western listeners, the sound of the "Ragas" is perhaps the most iconic musical symbol of India. The Extraordinary music director, composer & Sarod player Avra Banerjee, who lives in Perth, Western Australia, has just released his brand new album with titled "Manoyatri", which explores new ways of combining the Indian Classic Music with world music fusion. Anchored by the expressive and melodic tones of Saxophone, Tabla, Sitar, Bass Guitars, Djembe, Violin, Sarangi, Piano & Harmonium, Avra Banerjee skillfully interweaves the rich textures of the Sarod, the eminent component of Indian classical music.

Listen "Manoyatri" Now

“Manoyatri” is a collection of 4 unique compositions which are marked by rich musical texture that exemplifies the genre of world fusion music. Firmly rooted in the earthy tones of Indian Classical Music, the musical tree branches out into diverse genres. The compositions are syncopated in nature and based on unconventional and intricate rhythmic time cycles like 9, 11, 13, 15 beat cycles along with 4/4 and 6/4. The theme of the album is spiritual in nature, that takes someone to a divine and contemplative journey of different experiences that of wisdom, timelessness, serenity, self realization, love, connections and synchronicity establishing a sense of ultimate peace and with euphoria. This Global Music project features 22 artists from multiple geographies across India, USA and Australia. 

The entire album "Manoyatri" was composed, music design and concept of Avra Banerjee. This album consist of mainly four tracks: Ganga Kaleidoscope; Vrindavan Sojourn; When Kailasha Muses; Yamuna Yearnings. Bhaswar Dasgupta is a lyricist of entire project. The participants in “Manoyatri” include renowned artists Swapan Chaudhuri, Taufiq Qureshi, George Brooks, Subhen Chatterjee, Purbayan Chatterjee, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Suchismita Das, Mainak Bumpy Chowdhury, Murad Ali Khan, Ambi Subramanyam, Ojhas Adhiya, Rhythm Shaw, Praashekh Borkar, Gayatri Asokan, Sambit Chatterjee, Tamal Kanti Halder, Raghab Chatterjee, Himadri S Das, Bachospati Chakraborty, Sivakumar Balakrishnan. The album was mixed At: Offbeat Music Ventures, Chennai & Muzik House Productions, Kolkata,  mastered By: Oli Morgan at Abbey Road Studios, UK. Muzik House Productions published this album on all streaming platforms.

Stream "Manoyatri" Here

Pushing more boundaries of experiments, the result is MANOYATRI, a global music project, compilation of four different compositions are marked by rich musical texture that exemplifies the genre of world fusion music. 

Ganga Kaleidoscope, the first track from this album, based on Raag ‘Jog’, this composition  takes you to a voyage  on the river "Ganga" demonstrating different dynamics and emotions of  that is sometimes  intense yet tranquil, sometimes fiercely and powerfull and you feel at one with the power that drives it all with soulful vocal of Mahalakshmi Iyer & composition of Avra Banerjee. Just as "Jog" signifies ""connection"", this track organically gets connected from Indian music to a progressive development with Western melodies and rhythm. The track is played in an unconventional unison pattern with dynamics of rhythmic beats that transitions from 4-beat cycle to 9-beat cycle.

Vrindavan Sojourn, the second track from this album, In the playful tradition of "Vrindavan", a place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, this composition charms you and draws you in a way you can feel it living and breathing inside you. Vrindavan is a place with riot of colors, and that is what reflected here with a mix of ragas. You can sense a euphoric, progressive Indian Classical fusion with shear elegance dripping from every note changing from playfulness to love to jealousy and desire that you sense alive through contemporary jazz and finally, the bittersweet pain of separation. The dynamics of the melody and rhythm, transitions smoothly in between various time cycles from 11-beat, 12 beat and 8-beat cycles, bringing the much desired diversity in the composition.

Kailasha Muses, the third track from the album, A tribute to the supreme lord of rhythm, Nataraj Dambarupani Shiva. As "Kailasha muses", music is born and a multiverse of rhythm is created. Aptly based on Raag "Bibhas", the contemplative raaga named after Lord Shiva himself, this track is brought to life through a combination of two completely different yet mutually complementing percussion instruments representing the "Damaru" created by Lord Shiva to produce spiritual sounds by which the whole universe has been created and regulated. The composition is on an intricate time cycle of 13-beat supported by haunting melody bringing in the eeriness of Mt. Kailasha.

Yamuna Yearnings, the fourth track from this album, this composition speaks about the teary-eyed adoration of 'Madhusudhana' (Lord Krishna) and adorns himself with a peacock feather. Is the peacock feather the ornament, or does it feel itself beautified by Lord Krishna himself?  Does the flute give music to his breath, or does it itself sing with happiness when touched by his lips? This Thumri celebrates absolute love and devotion while evoking the most beautiful of deities. The Thumri composition transitions from 4-beat to a 15-beat time cycle melody representing a beautiful conversation between Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha though two different Indian musical instruments demonstrating a combined forms of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God.  You may get yourself completely immersed in this voyage and enjoy this album.

Avra Banerjee is a rising talent in world music. Although he grew up immersed in Indian classical music traditions, he has expanded his musical beyond Indian ragas by adding cinematic Western classical, fusion, and other influences. Avra has over 15 years of Indian classical music training is a composer and plays the instrument sarod, specializing in World music. He has done successful collaborations with musicians across the USA, Europe, India and Australia. Avra has till date released 7 albums, received nominations at the biggest Indian music award GIMA in 2013 for best fusion music album and Independent Music Award, USA. Founder of two World music bands “Ragamorphism” at India and “SwaraSynthesis” at Australia, apart from performing he is responsible for music direction, composition and arrangement of the band tracks. Apart from working with some legendary and some renowned musicians who are part of the “Manoyatri” project, Avra has worked as a capacity of a composer with acclaimed musicians like Hariharan, Ustad Rashid Khan, Talat Aziz before. Avra is also in a senior leadership role working as a Senior Information Technology Program Manager at Infosys Australia.

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Check out "Manoyatri" by Avra Banerjee and don't forget to add it to your playlist, as it is available on all major audio streaming platforms.

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