Dark Horse Records celebrate Ravi Shankar’s Centennial with first-ever vinyl release of ‘Chants of India’
5 March 2020
Dark Horse Records is celebrating this year’s milestone Ravi Shankar Centennial with the first ever vinyl release of his renowned 1997 album, ‘Chants of India’, which was produced by Shankar’s longtime friend, collaborator, and Dark Horse founder, George Harrison.
The acclaimed collection will be available on 2 x 12” LP 180-gram red vinyl, housed in a gatefold sleeve with an exclusive 12”x12” photo print. Limited to 3,000 in North America, ‘Chants of India’ arrives Saturday, April 18 as a Record Store Day exclusive release.
Recorded in the south Indian city of Chennai – then known as Madras – as well as Friar Park, Harrison’s home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, ‘Chants of India’ marked a landmark departure for Shankar. Though of course known around the world for his extraordinary work in Hindustani classical music, the album sees Shankar creating a collection of traditional Vedic and other Hindu sacred prayers set to music, offering his hope for peace and harmony among nature and all creatures. The renowned sitar master is joined by a number of leading Indian musicians, performing on such traditional instruments such as tabla, santoor, veena, bansuri flute, tanpura, and mridangam, as well as violin, cello, and harp, with his daughter, Anoushka Shankar, conducting and Harrison, contributing at Shankar’s personal request, on acoustic guitar, autoharp, bass, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, and backing vocals.
Released on CD in 1997, the album proved both a popular and critical success, reaching #3 on Billboard’s “Top World Music Albums” amidst wide-ranging international applause. Entertainment Weekly’s Josef Woodard awarded the album an “A-”, hailing it as an “enchanting set of Indian music based on prayers and chants… Unlike Shankar’s classical raga recordings, ‘Chants of India’ is a set of short, colorfully arranged pieces, enjoyable for neophytes and devotees alike. Another jewel from a humble world-music superstar.” ‘Chants of India’ “utilizes Western instruments, classical this time, creating a sound that’s akin to ‘Within You, Without You’ on SGT. PEPPER,” wrote Goldmine’s Gillian Gaar. “Because of the nature of the material — prayers to God — the emphasis is on the vocals, not the instrumentation, which makes this album especially soothing and relaxing.” Indeed, NR Classical has named the album as one of “5 Essential Ravi Shankar Recordings,” writing, “This is a very different kind of Ravi Shankar project, produced by George Harrison in 1997. Shankar took Hindu prayers, mantras and scriptural texts and framed them within larger musical settings, incorporating both Indian and European instruments along with voices. The results are transporting — and very beautiful.”