Aradhna Sau Guna as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothAradhna feature more Western sounds in their global worship extravaganza.

Label:  Independent (
Time: 6 Tracks / 30 minutes + ca. 30 minutes extras

My initial impression of Aradhna’s latest CD Namaste Sate was that the cover should never have been so criminally monochrome when the band and their Indian heritage are so colourful. This vivid DVD, which features several of the best tracks from Namaste Sate, puts that right in the extreme.

Directed by Ben Stamper (whose music under the moniker Ben & Vesper has been well-received on this site recently) this collection was filmed around the city of Varanasi and the river Ganges.

Many of the band’s lyrics are in Hindi, so while the spirit behind them is easy to pick up on, the details are not. The thrust of their music is of taking a lived-out message of gladdening life to those around; it’s the story of grace. The beauty of the DVD is that its images convey that message in a way that leaps over words. It is the ideal format.

Half of the tracks have been covered in the Namaste Sate review. There are flashes of Peter Gabriel in the vocals, hints of Bruce Springsteen in guitar flashes (“Holy River”) and tablas bubble throughout. Western ears will find that the strong musicality in this release keeps snatches of songs rolling around the head for hours after listening.

This DVD spends as much time on extras as the six music videos themselves. Going further than simply illustrating songs – or, more accurately, “stacking metaphors upon the foundation of the given song” as Stamper describes his approach – Sau Guna explains the Indian traditions that he is filming. So we learn the inside word on what happens when Indian boys fly kites, and we hear of the heartbreaking desperation in the rituals that childless couples go through in the river.

Of course there is also the more usual information about the film-making: the joys of getting strangers to work on peeling vegetables, the frustration of dawn tea-lights having a mind and tide of their own, and the bum-numbing endurance of cycling for hours on end to get the right shots.

As befits the colours, the clarity of the HD images is striking, such as the close ups of the beautiful decorative inlays on Chris Hale’s sitar. The disc also gets close up to ordinary life in the city, so that you may feel you have visited it by the end.

There is a tremendous integrity to the blending of music, spirit, craft and visuals on this project. Aradhna’s work is unique; how much more so a DVD of their art and worship.


Derek Walker