Parallels: Vandana Vishwas
Indo-Canadian musician, Vandana Vishwas, who recently won the 2016 Toronto Independent Music Awards in ‘Best World’ category, is truly an out-of-the-box composer who is not afraid of experimenting fusing Indian music with other genres. The recipient of the Indo-Canadian Arts & Culture Initiative’s Woman Hero Award, she recently added another feather to her cap by winning a silver medal at the Global Music Awards 2016 for her flamenco-based song Mai Beqaid (I Am Unprisoned) in the World Music and Female Vocalist categories from her third album Parallels.
The former Lucknow native’s new album Parallels has a two-fold meaning. She has actually composed just five songs and presented each of them in two distinct genres. So, there are a total of ten songs making five ‘parallels’. Secondly, within each song itself, Indian music (melody) runs parallel to the genre.
The unique aspect of Parallels is that Sufi songs by Bulle Shah have been treated in genres such as flamenco, country and ballad, which has never been done before. She has also collaborated with genres like rock, New Age and African music for ghazals, thumri and geet.
The album features two of Bulle Shah’s poems — Mai Beqaid in flamenco music (in collaboration with Canadian flamenco guitar maestro Johannes Linstead) and country music (in collaboration with Canadian dobro master Richard Henderson and Banjo wiz Tim Allan), and Hum Gum Huye in ballad (in collaboration with Canadian drummer Mark Kelso) and an unplugged version (in collaboration with Vishwas Thoke). She has also used a ghazal written by Jigar Muradabadi sahib, composed by her childhood mentor Dilip Kumar Gandhe, in traditional setting but in collaboration with Chinese Erhu specialist Amely Zhou and another version which she labels as Rock-E-Zal in collaboration with electric guitarist Adam Langley, drummer Mark Kelso and bassist Jarrod Ross.
Vandana debuts as a lyricist for the first time on Dhula Dhula with Njacko Backo on kalimba and Constancia on vocals in the African beats version, and Njacko Backo’s African harp with Anil Roopchund’s tabla in the Afro-Indian version, and on Piya Na Mose Bole with the Grammy-winning trio of Ricky Kej, Varsha Kej and Vanil Veigas in the New Age version, and with Sunil Avachat’s flute and Anil Roopchund’s tabla in the thumri version.
The idea to do this kind of an album came when she listened to a non-Indian musical style; she always wondered about the differences in Indian music and if there was a way to collaborate with this genre in such a way that it maintained its integrity while allowing Indian music to maintain its own authenticity. She treated her five compositions in two diverse genres each, resulting in ten ‘parallel’ compositions that present the collaborated genres in their authentic forms.
A good album to check out compared to all we hear today.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in.