Music Review: Shakti Sutra
New Earth Records
With Shakti Sutra Indian-American vocalist Sheela Bringi and longtime collaborator Clinton Patterson have created a sweet mantra album that is steady and sophisticated. The two honed their musical skills performing together as Premasoul, a group that combined elements of jazz, blues, and Indian chanting. This new offering remains grounded in Hindu mantras with subtle percussion, guitar, and electronics. Bringi’s lovely harp and flute playing stand out—they also recently graced albums by DJ Drez and Dave Stringer, who reciprocates here with vocals on “Krishna Govinda.” Shakti Sutra is calming and uplifting; it’s a journey into peace.
“Playing music has always been a way for me to connect to stillness and a sense of expansiveness within myself, and to feel a sense of openness and connection with my family and community,” Bringi told S&H. “These mantras were chosen to involve the listener. They are an invitation to sing along, sort of a private kirtan. These words have been sung in my family for generations.”
Bringi’s rhythmic harp opens “Ganesha Sharanam” with vocals by Subhashish Mukhopadhay, Sheela’s Hindustani vocal teacher in Los Angeles. “He’s from Calcutta and a disciple of the great Pandit Manas Chakraborty,” Bringi explains. “It is quite an honor for me to have him on this record.”
“Mantras are often as much about the future as they are about the past,” adds Clinton Patterson, who recorded, mixed, and produced the album. “This is the first record where we‘ve put electronics right alongside the tabla, harmonium, and violas. It‘s a new sound for us, but who‘s to say what the voice of God sounds like?”