Aradhna, Namaste Sate as reviewed by The Phantom TollboothAradhna features more Western sounds in their global worship extravaganza.


Label:  Independent (

Time: 11 Tracks / 52 minutes

Not heard Aradhna yet? If a cross between psychedelic Beatles, Peter Gabriel and classical Indian music appeals, then read on, for Aradhna have released a follow-up to their rather fine Amrit Vani and this time it has added Western ingredients.

The duo, Peter Hicks and Chris Hale, grew up in America, Nepal and India at various times and they specialize in a synthesis of both cultures, blending them so naturally that you cannot entirely separate the elements. Their superb worship music reminds us that God is not Western, but is over all the Earth. Where Amrit Vani was generally peaceful (an atmosphere that they exude in all they do, including live work) with Western bits added, Namaste Sate shifts the fusion more westwards.

In parallel with the change in the music, on this disc there is more singing in English. As Peter Hicks told Tollbooth, “It was planned.  We approached Namaste Sate looking more through the western/rock/folk lens than the communal/Indian way we did Amrit.  It definitely became more western when we made drums an integral part of the album and I had hours to develop the guitars in the studio.”

This means that English-speakers get to hear more of their imagery, with the tenderness and spirituality of lines such as, “You are the love of a mother, lips on baby’s skin.” (As always, the CD insert gives a full translation of all text.)

Previously explored with caution, here they more often turn latent power into a crescendo and then sink back afterwards. It happens on the opener “Mukteshwar,” with its aching vocals and closing section of the Lord’s Prayer, and they develop it in the title track. They take it further in “Yeshu Muktinath” which starts oddly with electronic percussion that (at first) sounds somewhat intrusive, set against acoustic guitar work that is as bright and exciting as a market place full of saris, but then the track explodes into electric guitar and soaring vocals that brings to mind Burlap to Cashmere at their best. It is to Aradhna what “Obsession” is to Delirious?

Most of the best tracks feature on their first DVD Sau Guna (see forthcoming review) but that doesn’t have room for all the treats here. Namaste also includes “Apane Logo” with its delectable rhythm (11/8?) and “Yapudhe,” which, with its chiming guitar work, is not unlike early U2 with tablas. Other tracks reflect the quiet, dignified beauty of Amrit Vani.

With their unique work, I am not sure whether you could call Aradhna a brand as well as a band. But however you label them, you can trust them to thread faith into art and vice versa, so that each strengthens the other.

Derek Walker