Anoushka Shankar – Chapter 1: Forever, For Now
(LEITER LTR027. Album review – first of three EPs – by Gareth Thomas)
Released on Nils Frahm’s LEITER record label, Chapter 1: Forever, For Now is the first of three EPs, or ‘mini-albums’, by sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar – featuring Frahm as an accompanying musician, and produced by Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab, with whom Shankar has worked before, most notably on Aftab’s song ‘Udhero Na’.
With the sitar firmly in the foreground, Forever, For Now consists of four instrumental meditations, opening with Daydreaming: a gentle duet between Shankar and Frahm on piano. The second track (and the album’s lead single, YouTube below), Stolen Moments, is a layered melody beginning with solo sitar before expanding to include Frahm’s further embellishments: bright reverberations from the glass harmonica and a drone-like bass accompaniment from the harmonium.
Forever, For Now’s only trace of percussive accompaniment comes during What Will We Remember, the longest track on the mini-album (at around nine minutes): following a five-and-a-half minute ‘alaap’ section from Shankar, the piece is then underpinned by the woody tones of the slit drum, as Frahm measures out a steady, unchanging rhythm.
Of course, Shankar’s skill as a sitarist is beyond question. Well-deserving of each of her nine Grammy nominations, she has excelled within a number of different musical settings: from Indian classical ragas to pop-inflected music, jazz and larger scale orchestral collaborations. Forever, For Now is no exception. It’s a rather minimalist work, certainly when compared with 2022’s Between Us… featuring Jules’ Buckley and the Metropole Orkest with percussionist Manu Delago (also released on the LEITER label). It will be interesting to see how the trilogy of mini-albums progresses from here, musically and thematically.
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LINK: Chapter 1 on Bandcamp