Personnel includes: Krishna Das (vocals, ektar, harmonium); Sting (vocals, bass); Wynne Paris (guitar, saz); Amit Chatterjee (guitar, keyboards); Hans Christian (cello, nyckelharpa, sarangi); John McDowell (keyboards, drums, shaker); Bhima-Karma Maharaj (khol, bells); Jeff Sussman (dumbek, udu, shaker); Kirtan Posse (background vocals).
Principally recorded at Harold Dessau Studios, New York, New York.
Personnel: Krishna Das (vocals); Sting (vocals, electric bass); John McDowell (keyboards, drums, shaker); Jim Powell (programming).
Krishna Das, an American devotee of the late Indian guru Neem Karoli Baba, has become the Western world's most beloved chanter by virtue of records like PILGRIM HEART, which fuse traditional Hindu slokas and mantras to vibrant pop melodies from various cultures. It may sound pretentious or schlocky on paper, but Das's aim is true. Warmth, wit, and humility radiate from every track of this album (and its self-deprecating liner notes), and the stylistic experiments succeed most of the time, making the chants accessible and even catchy.
With the exception of the dreamy "Mother Song," the lyrics derive from Sanskrit texts--there are chants to Shiva, Krishna, and a slew of goddesses. One chant to Krishna materializes as a slow but stirring gospel number, weaving in and out of lines from "Amazing Grace," while a lilting tropical breeze blows through another. An ode to Kali/Durga sounds like an uplifting Senagalese tune, and the South African "township jive" style gives life to a story from the Ramayana. Synthesizers and traditional pop/rock instrumentation abound, and the overall sound is further Westernized by glossy production and a guest appearance by Sting. Das's resounding, low-pitched vocals and phrasing owe more to Michael Stipe than to classical Indian singers. Krishna Das's singing and chanting are the main elements of his practice as a bhakti yogi--one who attempts to transcend the ego through love and devotion to a supreme being. The depth and sincerity of his devotion is evident in every note of this lovely record.