Singer: Deepa Nair Rasiya
Genre: Sufi/ mystic music
Label: Asli Music
Price: Rs 299
FOLLOWING the success of Pakistani singer Abida Parveen in the late 1990s, many female vocalists have entered the Sufi and mystic music arena. However, a large number depend on powerful renditions in the higher octave to create an impact. The first observation one has after listening to British Indian singer Deepa Nair Rasiya’s album ‘Destination’ is that her style is different, banking on pleasant, raag-based melodies with subtle nuances. The fact that she mainly uses western arrangements makes this recording even more special.
Besides the Sufi verse of Baba Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Shah Hussein and Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Rasiya presents the spiritual poetry of Bhagat Kabir, whose work has been sung for years, and Baba Naamdev. While her singing is soulful throughout, the technically brilliant use of guitars, bass, violin, keyboards and KJ Singh’s drum programming gives the album a wonderful feel. The arrangements have shades of soft rock, jazz and lounge, and yet the songs retain their Indian flavour.
The album begins with ‘Main andhle ki tek’, in which Baba Naamdev writes, “Main andhle ki tek tera naam kundhakaaraa, main gareeb main masakeen tera naam hai adhaaraa’. Sanjoy Das’s catchy guitar riff and Manas Kumar’s violin add to the tune’s beauty.
‘Man atkeya’, written by Hazrat Shah Hussain, is an uptempo song, the kind which seems perfect for ending a concert. Kabir’s ‘Lagan bin jaage na nirmohi’ has been sung gracefully, and is the kind of tune that lingers for hours.
Kabir is also represented through ‘Moko kahaan’, which has the lines, ‘Moko kahaan dhoondhe re bande, main toh tere paas mein, na teerath mein na moorat mein, na ekanth niwas mein, na mandir mein na masjid mein, na Kaabe Kailaas mein’. This song has a more Indian orchestration. The Gwalior gharana composition ‘Man laago’ has jazz-inspired keyboards by Harshavardhan Dixit, with a guest appearance on bass by Rahul Ram of the band Indian Ocean.
One of the highlights is Bulleh Shah’s ‘Aao saiyyon’, which was also recently rendered smoothly by the Mekaal Hasan Band. Rasiya’s version is fantastic too, and the arrangements lend a completely new dimension. The Bulleh Shah repertoire also includes ‘Tera naam dhyaida’, which reflects devotion towards one’s Lord, and ‘Ab toh jaag’, which advises a traveller to move on.
Rasiya’s rendition of Sultan Bahu’s ‘Eh tan mera’ wonderfully expresses the words, where the poet wishes he had a million eyes on every pore of his body to see his master with untiring zeal.
The album concludes with ‘Aa pir moreh Auliya Nizamuddin’. It’s a vibrant tune but strangely, it has been mentioned only in passing in the album credits, and not on the back cover or song list.
On the technical side, KJ Singh’s production is first-rate. What’s also welcome is the detailing of the inlay card. Barring ‘Aa pir morey’, the meanings of all songs have been explained in English, making it easier for those who don’t follow the language to understand.
The best thing about ‘Destination’ is that one can play the songs repeatedly, and if one really gets into their meaning, they grow even more. Rasiya’s singing style and the overall simplicity of the album add to the charm.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding
For this writer’s interview of singer Deepa Nair Rasiya, published in Mid-Day newspaper, Mumbai, check http://www.mid-day.com/articles/a-journey-across-musical-traditions/16459165