Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Spotlight: Ascension, Niguma, Vol. 2: The Mantra Project by Sangeeta Kaur

Sangeeta Kaur is a Vietnamese-American trained opera singer, mantra singer and music producer. On her third album entitled, Ascension, Niguma, Vol. 2: The Mantra Project, she is joined by acclaimed producer Nicolas Neidhardt, The Hungarian Studio Orchestra of Budapest and several guest musicians – thereby collectively bringing a listening experience described as a “fusion of sacred cinematic mantra music, yoga, dance and storytelling”.

Comprised of ten compositions spanning 43 minutes, the album variably interweaves classical, opera, mantra, world and adult contemporary music, and features instruments such as harmonium, keyboards, bass, percussion, electric and acoustic guitar. In addition to the album’s main highlight of Sangeeta’s soprano vocals, are the ceremonious sounds of cinematic orchestra and symphonic drumming that are prevalent throughout, which effectively convey the notion of experiencing a live stage performance.

The album opens with “All Space and Time (intro)”, which serves as a brief atmospheric introduction featuring some indiscernible, soft-spoken word. Leading right into “Niguma, I Bow to You”, this piece is characterized by its gentle orchestral arrangement, as Sangeeta delivers a lyrical melody in English and wordless soprano vocals on the chorus with a bit of “OM Shanti” intonations towards the end. I’ve always been especially fond of the Armenian Daduk which also intermittently accompanies the main melody throughout. “Dream Tunnel” follows next and is probably my favorite piece herein, as wordless ethereal vocals glide across cinematic drums, crystalline textures and sweeping orchestration. “This Beautiful World” ensues with some added acoustic guitar and a brief vocal appearance by West African singer Kasse Mady Diabate, as Sangeeta delivers the main melody in a reminiscently praise/worship style.

Sangeeta also showcases her impressive operatic range with a rendition of the famous Italian-language soprano aria, “Lascia Ch’io Pianga”, which is accompanied by the aural grandeur of a full symphony orchestra. “Samsara’s Tango” eventually proceeds with some more operatic vocals, dramatic violins and thundering percussion. Easily one of the album’s most defining moments, it artfully combines opera, tango and classical-rock music.

Finally, we conclude with “Ardas Bhaee”, a piece that features layered vocal harmonies amid bell-tones and symphony, with Sangeeta offering up some philosophical spoken word towards the end.

Although mostly derived from the sweeter side of the sound palette, Ascension is an excellently produced and thoughtfully crafted album. Fans of uplifting inspirational music of the philosophically “new age” kind are especially encouraged to give it a listen! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album can also be purchased at Amazon and iTunes.