NO STRANGER HERE (EARTHSYNC)
[DUNKELBUNT]
A NEW DAY; LAYA PROJECT REMIXED
ADDIS ACOUSTIC PROJECT
AFRO ROOTS WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
AMADOU & MARIAM
ANTÓNIO ZAMBUJO
APHRODESIA
BALKANBEATS
BANCO DE GAIA
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC ORKESTAR
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC
BOY WITHOUT GOD
C.J. CHENIER
CARLOS GOGO GOMEZ
CHOBAN ELEKTRIK
CHOPTEETH
CHRISTIANE D
CHRISTINE VAINDIRLIS
CLARA PONTY
COPAL
CUCHATA
DAMJAN KRAJACIC
DANIEL CROS
DEBO & FENDIKA
DEL CASTILLO
DR JAYANTHI KUMARESH
EARTHRISE SOUNDSYSTEM
EGYPT NOIR
ELIN FURUBOTN
EMILY SMITH
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FEUFOLLET
FIAF PRESENTS WORLD NOMADS MOROCCO: MUSIC
FOOTSTEPS IN AFRICA
GECKO TURNER
GENTICORUM
GEOFF BERNER
GIANMARIA TESTA
GODS ROBOTS
GUARCO
HUUN HUUR TU
INDIAN OCEAN
IRENE JACOB & FRANCIS JACOB
JANAKA SELEKTA
JANYA
JERRY LEAKE
JOAQUIN DIAZ
JOEL RUBIN
JORGE STRUNZ
JOSEF KOUMBAS
JOYFUL NOISE (I GRADE RECORDS)
JUST A BAND
KAMI THOMPSON
KARTICK & GOTAM
KHALED
KHING ZIN & SHWE SHWE KHAING
KITKA'S CAUCASIAN CONNECTIONS PROJECT PERFORMANCES AND WORKSHOPS
KMANG KMANG
KOTTARASHKY AND THE RAIN DOGS
LA CHERGA
LAC LA BELLE
LAYA PROJECT
LENI STERN
LES TRIABOLIQUES
LISTEN FOR LIFE
LOBI TRAORÉ
LO'JO
LOKESH
MAGNIFICO
MAHALA RAI BANDA
MIDNITE
MOHAMMED ALIDU AND THE BIZUNG FAMILY
MR. SOMETHING SOMETHING
MY NAME IS KHAN
NAWAL
NAZARENES
NO STRANGER HERE (EARTHSYNC)
OCCIDENTAL BROTHERS ON TOUR
OCCIDENTAL GYPSY
OREKA TX
ORQUESTRA CONTEMPORÂNEA DE OLINDA
PABLO SANCHEZ
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WHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY SOUNDTRACK
WOMEXIMIZER
WOMEXIMIZER
ZDOB SI ZDUB
ZIETI
No Stranger Here (EarthSync)
Thread Through Time: No Stranger Here Ties Indian Classical Singing, Edgy Spoken Word, and Polished Electronica to the Surging Love and Ancient Poems of a Renegade Mystic

In the middle of a rough year, Philly-based poet and spoken work artist Ursula Rucker opened an email that stretched back to the 16th century.

It was an out-of-the-blue invitation from strangers, from two producers she had never crossed paths with, working on an album of songs based on the poetry of Kabir, an Indian mystic and poet, and woven around the sublimely precise, stunningly earthy voice of renowned Hindustani classical singer Shubha Mudgal.

She listened, felt the common thread, and co-created No Stranger Here (EarthSync; U.S. release: February 14, 2012), a polyphonic, multifaceted tribute to love, earthly and divine. With Kabir as the binding tie, Rucker, Mudgal, and the Business-Class Refugees (led by veteran cross-cultural, genre-defying producers Patrick Sebag and Yotam Agam) render in lush sonic form the shared experience of alienation and longing.

Balancing the elegant subtleties of Indian classical tradition, Western orchestral music, rich bursts of electronica, and Rucker’s insistent words, No Stranger Here flows from the universal sense of strangerhood, that mysterious alienation that haunts both our contemporary lives and echoes in centuries-old poems. “None of us are strangers to that feeling,” remarks Sonya Mazumdar, EarthSync CEO and producer. “Yet it is the very feeling of not belonging that highlights the intensity of love.”

“We use silences a lot. The use of silences for punctuation is very important to what Kabir is saying,” notes Mudgal. “We really don’t know about him, what was actually written by Kabir and what was changed by his disciples. But by singing it today, we become part of a much longer continuum.”

Rucker agrees: “Just being a poet, no matter how many centuries separate you, is a connection. I use other elements, but my work is really about God and love, even if you have to dig and read between the lines. It’s a continuing thread that goes throughout time.”

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Kabir has the literary importance (and biographical mystery) of Shakespeare, but with an unrivaled spiritual significance, as part of the Bhakti (or “Devotion”) movement that pressed for spiritual renewal and broad human understanding for several centuries in India. Bhakti proponents eschewed the rigid ritualization of religion, raising a radical call for love and spirit beyond human-made boundaries. Kabir, as both thinker and figure, leaps nimbly across faiths, caste, cultures: Legend has it that Kabir was the son of Brahmins, but was raised by Muslim weavers. His spare, often blunt words have had a lasting impact on the Sikh faith and sparked a religious following that now numbers in the millions.

“Kabir is a major reference point for Indians. He had the ability to put these massive philosophical concepts in a way that the common person, who was denied education or had very simple ways for dealing with life, could grasp perfectly,” explains Mazumdar. “Kabir equated the love between two people to the love between an individual and God. Composers down the ages have interpreted his depth and simplicity in various musical formats.”

Mudgal, a renowned classical performer known for her openness to taking musical risks, continued this long tradition of innovation based on Kabir’s works. Invited into EarthSync’s Chennai studios for a session, Mudgal found herself drawing on poets of the Bhakti movement, and especially on Kabir, as she laid down tracks in response to Agam and Sebag’s grooves.

“Their tracks suggested a mood or tone, and I would look back on the poetry I’d been reading and take little bits from the poems,” Mudgal recalls. “Khayal, one of the styles I specialize in, uses phonetics to great advantage, and allows me to take a very tiny, 30-second composition and turn it into an extended exploration of pulse and sound. You can discover a lot as a musician, just in those few phrases.”

Agam, Sebag, and the rest of the Refugees—bassist Eval Mazig arranged the soaring orchestral parts—worked with Mudgal’s inspired improvisations—but realized that something was missing. Familiar with Rucker’s albums, they began dropping her voice onto a few tracks and realized she was it. Months of emails later, and Rucker, surprised by the invite and uplifted by its timing, crafted her own words and vocal tracks in response to Kabir and Mudgal’s.

Unexpected, the dialogue unfolds beautifully: “Steadfast” weaves the meditative perfection of Mudgal’s vocal lines with Rucker’s gentle yet firm explorations of love’s many angles. “Seraphim Tones” moves through intense longing to prayerful gratitude and connection, as Mudgal flies over scintillating beats and Rucker sings and speaks with an immediacy that shows just how alive the tie between ancient poems and contemporary poet can be.

To balance the Eastern elements and the Western orchestra, the distinctive voices of a highly trained singer and a veteran wordsmith, Agam and Sebag drew guidance from the narrative thread suggested by the pieces. “We look at it like a film that has two major actors that tell the same story but each from his place and environment,” they note. “Every song is a different story and should leave room for everyone to tell their stories in harmony. That's what music and collaboration is all about. That is what we love doing.”

<< release: 02/14/12 >>
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