As a means of inviting her devoted fans into a more profound understanding of the spirituality behind the gloriously immersive experience of her sixth album Aurora, multi-talented new age/classical crossover great Sangeeta Kaur – fresh from her 2022 Grammy win for her contributions to Danae Xanthe Vlasse’s album Mythologies – offers a beautiful, thought provoking guiding quote: “The album was inspired and guided by the cosmos…a journey of love, dreams and trusting in the universe.”
Yet at heart it is also the latest transcendent manifestation of the artist’s desire and musical mission, since the release of her 2016 debut album Niguma, to bring light into the world, As she said upon the release of Illuminance, her 2020 collaboration with famed new age pianist/composer Peter Kater, “With each song, I always want to help find a solution, to provide hope, inspiration and uplift.” That took on a new meaning during the pandemic when that collection was released, but in so many ways, humanity and the earth itself remains in an ongoing state of chaos and division. On Aurora, she is once again an extraordinary light bearer, using her angelic and ethereal, classically trained operatic vocals to create fresh, soul-transformative possibilities.
Testament to Sangeeta’s exciting evolution as an artist is the fact that she is collaborating this time with multi-millions selling songwriter Shridhar Solanki, who has penned songs with or for Dua Lipa, Jennifer Hudson, Andrea Bocelli, Carrie Underwood and Seal and had music featured in The Twilight Saga, Breaking Brooklyn and Grey’s Anatomy. Solanki’s dynamic influence as a pop producer is evident throughout and helps take the singer’s artistry and messaging to an expansive new level.
Sangeeta’s ensemble includes violinist Nathalie Bonin, percussionist M.B. Gordy, bassist Mark Gorman, guitarist Andrew Synowiec, pianist Van Anh Nguyen and cellist Eru Matsumoto. Sangeeta, Van Anh Nguyen, Duy Tran and Mark Olsen are credited as co-producers, with the singer’s longtime engineer Gerhard Joost on board again. Aurora is the first of Sangeeta’s albums to be recorded at Studio Hill in Austin, a state-of-the-art recording facility she co-owns with her husband Hai Nguyen. Joost, a celebrated industry veteran, is also a partner in Studio Hill and serves as the in-house Chief Recording Engineer.
From Sangeeta’s sultry and soothing repetition of the mantra “All Love” over a lush atmospheric soundscape colored by the gently swaying violin of Nathalie Bonin on the opening track through the jangling and densely percussive Eastern flavored closing meditation “Tvameva Mata,”Aurora is a deeply hypnotic, lushly orchestrated and optimistic journey infused with the timeless spirit of its title muse – a goddess of Roman mythology who renews herself every morning while flying across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun.
Whether the singer is caressing our hearts with a graceful moment of sweet serenity (taking us, for example, on a mystical, dancing piano and violin driven journey to “Distant Shores” and sweeping us into sparkling, piano and orchestra visions of glorious “Starlight”) or elevating our heart rates with pieces like the densely percussive, exotically swirling “Manjushri Mantra,” she’s always there at dawn for us. Always drawing us forward to embrace the hope of a new sunrise, a new day that makes us believe that we can override the darkness.
Showcasing both the deep emotion and impossible range of Sangeeta’s voice, “Love Ignites” is the title of an intimate yet soaring, intricately produced track at the heart of the 10-song album. Yet those two words seem to be the core message, that what we ignite here in our hearts, the opportunity create and spread love every day, has the power to resonate through the cosmos and cause meaningful vibrational shifts that resonate for eternity.
One of the most intriguing pieces on Aurora is “To Love You,” which opens with soft piano chords surrounded by soft ambience and bird calls, then with the sound of Sangeeta’s vocalizations starts evolving into a high energy Western Classical meets Eastern Exotica whirlwind of plucky sitar, haunting cello tones (courtesy of Eru Matsumoto) and guttural male chanting. Easing off the high energy fusion, the song takes a breather when Sangeeta intones, “No one knows what it feels like. . .in the sun. . .To love you…” before the flames burn bright again.
The enigmatic, multi-movement title track is another highlight, beginning with the feeling of an exotic synth heartbeat before introducing a dancing violin and breezing along on the dreamy wings of Sangeeta’s emotional yet seemingly floating wordless vocalizations amidst an explosion of hypno-ambience. Taking the tune to its musical destiny are heavier tribal rhythms wrapped in a swath of violin and percussive flute, followed by Sangeeta’s lyrical sway.
Aurora also includes a remixed and remastered version of her 2021 single “In All of Time,” another piece that evolves from pure gossamer-voiced serenity to empowering a symphonic rock fusion vibe behind Sangeeta’s impassioned vocals that seem to speak of intimate romantic love, universal love and the guiding light of the divine at the same time. Opening with the reminder of our life’s journey via a ticking clock, “Flashback” is a soulful, pop-flavored meditation on the realities of time, with the ultimate intent of taking us to realms in the cosmos where galaxies shift and expand yet time seems to stand still in a flow of the eternal now.