Aradhna Sapna reviewed in Phantom TollboothA complete re-invention of their latest collection, turning their world beats into more meditative pieces.

Label: independent ( and
Time 8 tracks / 42 minutes

Some might say that Aradhna are milking their Namaste Saté album for all its worth. I say that’s a great thing, because they are creating something new every time they touch it. After the original disc came out, they released the Sau Guna DVD that added videos to six tracks as well as providing a background featurette. Sapna is a remix of tracks from the same album, but this is no commercial rip off. For some tracks, the remix is such a huge overhaul that I had to work very hard to see which songs they were based on.

Namaste Saté was already a highly accessible collection that emphasised the Western side of their Indian-American blend. The band says that, inspired by the soundtrack for the Horse & Rider film and numerous requests for a more meditative record, “Sapna was created to make space, to open the door for journey, reflection and praise."

It certainly revels in space and praise and has an ideal pace for reflection, not least the one new track, “Aayo.” Featuring acoustic guitar and flutes, this simple piece could be the soundtrack to any sailing down the river film sequence.

This account of Namaste Saté’s songs is like a study of a famous painting, when a detail is shown on its own: it is clearly taken from the larger work, but it misses out swathes of the original and has a different proportion and focus. So “Dharti” and “Atma” both focus on single lines – respectively, a slow distorted guitar pick and a gorgeously hypnotic high bass riff – on which the band hangs colours from the original songs. Both of them also develop, with breaks from the riffs and changes of emphasis.

A few of the works still retain their essential identity, especially the tracks that were stronger on the original. “River,” one of those pieces that echo U2 in its more western moments, an abbreviated “Namaste” and “Mukteshwar,” with its mash up of the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, have all felt like familiar friends from the first play.

There is very little to dislike here. It would have been helpful to have more details about the content, for those who do not want to keep cross-referencing Namaste Saté’s booklet. The only track that I still cannot link to an original song, “Patta Mera,” ends well, but its angularity and early unresolved tension disrupt the mood somewhat. Otherwise, this set is full of the rich, multi-layered textures; the rises and falls; tablas, sitars and cellos; the pulsing passion and floating release that Aradhna are known for. Unlike that of its parent, Sapna’s cover has the richness of hue that shows the vibrant power of what lies inside.

Sapna has sufficient genetic links with its parent to display a family likeness, but it has its own pace, mood and character. It works well enough on its own or can be a satisfying part of this superb set of releases. We can already rely on Aradhna for something special nearly every time.

Derek Walker

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