“Reality is sound. We are attracted to music because essentially we are music; it is our being. This is why music is often said to be the universal language.” And Sharanam, Sharon Gannon’s solo debut on White Swan Records, speaks this shared language—passionately and beautifully, with a deep, profound resonance that cuts across myriad genres; rock, trance/dance, electronica, New Age, underground/alternative, classical, experimental/avant-garde, world music, even opera. Her voice is a celestial operatic soprano, beautifully imbued with the kinetic rock-and-roll grit of Siouxsie Sioux, as well as the elegance of Sarah McLachlan and Kate Bush, with the experimentalism of Bjork and the ethereal sound of a Theramin. Produced by Ferenz Kallos (Gypsy Kings), the album features eight epic tracks that swathe timeless, powerful mantras in sweeping widescreen settings.
By eschewing traditional Indian instrumentation for a layered, ancient-to-the-future sound that crosses electric guitars, strings, electronics, flutes, woodwinds, Theramin, and exotic percussion with hip-hop beats, Sharanam (“refuge” in Sanskrit) offers a fresh, soulful approach to the healing power of these eternal chants. Take the sublime interpretation of “Hare Krishna,” which moves from passages of poignant cello to plateaus of strong, uplifting rhythms; or the three versions (upbeat, slow, and “Happy Free Mix”) of “Lokah Samastah,” which the singer jokingly calls Jivamukti’s “theme mantra.” There’s also the percolating “Govinda Fly,” which is spiked with edgy fuzz guitar and graced with Sharon’s operatic delivery of an original lyric. Indeed, Sharanam plays equally well at the dance club, on the radio, in the concert hall, and, yes, around the meditation mat. “In music we attempt to render into form what is essentially formless, we attempt to describe what is beyond description, to frame silence, to measure infinity,” says Sting, one of Sharon’s most devoted students. “This work has been Sharon’s mission not only in her practice of yoga, but also in the practice of music…inspired, daring, and essential.” The daughter of an opera singer, Sharon grew up in Washington, DC, and was exposed to many styles of music as a child.
After moving to Seattle in 1967 she went on to perform with the bands New Fauvist Revue, Pyche-Run, Body Falling Downstairs, and Audio Letter. The latter outfit relocated to New York in 1983, where it became a staple of the downtown scene and eventually included jazz legends Don Cherry and Denis Charles, and multi-instrumentalist David Life, who would become Sharon’s life partner and found Jivamukti Yoga with her in 1984. In 2003 she produced Neti-Neti, a remix album of Audio Letter’s 1987 disc It is This, It is Not This featuring mixes by Bill Laswell, Russell Simmons, the Beastie Boys’ Mike D, and RUN-DMC’s Reverend Run. Billboard hailed the release for its “exotic rhythms, otherworldly soundscapes, and flawless musicianship.” Sharanam came about in 2007 when Kallos, one of Sharon’s Woodstock, New York, neighbors, knocked on her door and asked if she’d like to make an album.
She cites the Parisian producer’s vision, and the wild forest sanctuary that she and Life and their seven cats call home, as guiding influences on the record. When asked about her musical intentions, Sharon quotes the translation of “Lokah Samastah”: “To contribute in some way to the happiness and freedom of all beings through creating a mood by means of sound that might invoke a place of expansive awareness within the listener, where the possibility of total acceptance, kindness, and love arises and is felt as totally possible.” With Sharanam, Sharon Gannon shows that such a place is indeed real, that it exists within us all. And it sounds absolutely divine. Read more on Last.fm.
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