As is true of every Aradhna album, Namaste Saté is a study in contrasts, featuring eastern and western instrumentation, Hindi and English lyrics, ancient texts and modern beats, and soothing, contemplative whispers and soaring, post-rock crescendos. While Aradhna’s musical approach remains as searching and eclectic as ever, the new album features a more rock-oriented approach than 2007’s Amrit Vani. “Yapudhe” sounds like what might have happened if U2 had been raised in New Delhi instead of Dublin, and the title track employs the trademarked slow build of post-rock giants such as Sigur Ros and Mogwai. “Suralata” even mixes in a little Eagles country rock.
However, longtime fans of Aradhna need not fear. The foundation of Aradhna’s music remains the music of India’s devotional past and present, and sitars and tablas are still the dominant instruments. Those who treasure Aradhna’s albums for their commitment to classical Indian music will find much to love. Those who come looking for a contemplative worship experience will find music to soothe their souls. And those who cherish soaring, post-rock crescendos may find a new band to champion. Jonsi and his Icelandic falsetto have got nothing on Chris Hale and his soulful Hindi vocals.
A companion DVD, Sau Guna, will also be released simultaneously with the album. Produced by filmmaker Ben Stamper, and filmed in and around the holy city of Varanasi (formerly Benares) and the Ganges River, Sau Guna’s six videos showcase both the music of Namaste Saté and the breathaking region that inspired the songs. Much more than a traditional music video, Sau Guna serves as a cinematic feast for the eyes, a sumptuously filmed travelog that captures the soul of an ancient city.
A U.S. tour will follow the album and DVD release.