When it comes to a necessary shift of perspective, especially when it’s music that encourages the heavy shifting, sometimes timing is everything. Perhaps not so coincidentally, I started immersing in Compassion, the exquisite, soul enveloping and empowering fourth album by new age/classical crossover singer/songwriter Sangeeta Kaur, the day after its official release August 3.
Everyone knows the details of what America and particularly the cities of El Paso and Dayton endured that weekend, so I need not delve into them. But hearing the violent, heartbreaking news jolted me out of the lovely, transportive state of inner peace and relaxation that Sangeeta helped facilitate. I regret to say that my primitive brain took over for a few moments, with the worst emotions possible – fear, anger, and questions filled with gloom, doom and a sense of despair and hopelessness.
But then, the calm inner voice took over – the one that, ironically enough was soaring just moments before the text alert in one of the album’s most magical pieces, “Transcendence,” a lushly textured swirl of Eru Matsumoto’s divinely tuned cello, the angelic voices of the Hungarian Studio Choir and Sangeeta’s elevating, operatic lead wordless vocals. That voice reminded me that the darkness of some human souls is always outweighed by the universal potential for Compassion that Sangeeta is reflecting upon in her extraordinary work.
When I turned the music back on, these ten eclectic tracks – produced by Sangeeta and Nicolas Neidhardt and also featuring the classical influenced caressing grace of the Hungarian Studio Orchestra – provided the perfect soundtrack to images of caring people lining up to donate blood to the surviving victims.
Listening further, getting swept up in singing along with Sangeeta and the choir on the Tibetan Buddhist Mantra “Om Tara Tuttare Ture Soha” (designed to help overcome mental, physical, and emotional blockages) and the hypnotic, soothing English original “Rise Up,” my musings went deeper. Imagine if the human mind that is capable of both love and hatred, kindness and cruelty, compassion and heartlessness, attuned to the more positive vibrations the Universe has to offer and listened to the kind of calming yet spirit energizing music that Sangeeta has been releasing since Niguma (2016). It may seem crazy, but I think it’s better to take the new age version of the John Lennon route than give in to fear and paranoia.
Even if it’s on a normal, wonderful day in the life, anyone who tunes in deeply to Compassion will be richly rewarded in a multitude of spiritual and sonic ways – an intricate soundscape rich synthesis that includes piano, keyboards, bass, percussion, harp and carefully placed crystal singing bowls (most notably on “Voices and Crystals,” a hauntingly textured blend of soaring and grounded voices with Sangeeta chiming occasionally on the bowls.
A song whose message bears repeated listening in times like these (because then it can best imprint on our subconscious minds) is “We Are One,” where the singer conveys the idea without literal words, only the echoing, atmospheric voice of an angel and an intense burst of symphonic and percussive energy. There are two other resonant mantras of note, set to music by Sangeeta and Neidhardt – “Om Vajra Sattva Hum” (all about potent purification) and the childlike, impossible not to immediately chant along to “Sa Re Sa Sa,” designed to take negativity away from within oneself, awakening to the Infinite creative energy to burn away obstacles to achieving higher consciousness.
Although there’s an overriding universal consciousness emerging throughout, some pieces, like the hypnotic piano and vocal piece “May the Long Time Sun,” are gentler and more intimate in nature, allowing the crystalline purity of Sangeeta’s voice to touch places even further within.
With a name given to her by a yoga master that translates to “Princess of Music and Harmony,” the world-renowned Peace Song Award winner – born Teresa Mai – is a revelation and an artist we need more than ever in a world where the news of the day is nothing less than chaotic. Her musical mission, fulfilled and brought to fruition so powerfully and eloquently once again on Compassion - bears repeating: “My soul has a commitment to infuse the dharma and ancient wisdom into everything I do,” she says. “I want to be available to those who are ready for it. The songs must serve a true purpose and for anyone being challenged in these times, I am committed to sharing music that uplifts and inspires the soul.”
To stream Compassion: https://open.spotify.com/album/3O1N0Y2cRJiSCCs0TP1xMn