Whatever he touches – whether that be composing for Sir David Attenborough’s Green Planet, creating immersive sound installations at Kew Gardens or vocally recreating birdsong and natural environments – sound artist and composer Jason Singh brings sensitivity, nuance and soul. With diverse collaborations that include George Ezra, Rokia Traore, Sarathy Korwar, Talvin Singh and Shabaka Hutchings, his work is an ongoing exploration of the natural world and music technology. Travellers, with The Banwasi Collective is Singh’s latest undertaking; an exciting project from an artist who we’ve come to expect anything but the ordinary.
Released on Hudson Records on 22 September, ‘Travellers’ is a collection of 8 tracks recorded and produced by Singh featuring a collective of master musicians and vocalists, most of them from the Manganiyar community of hereditary musicians based in Rajasthan, northeast India. The album embraces multiple genres, faiths and languages and pays homage to the natural environment of Rajasthan. ‘Travellers’ deeply inhales the landscape, stories, flora and fauna of this rich desert state, and exhales soul-searing songs of travel, love and longing.
Featuring traditional instruments such as the ancient khartal, morchang, bhapana, dholak kamaicha, harmonium, dhol and dholak, the album focuses on Sufi culture and the significant impact of climate change on that part of the world. ‘Travellers’ was recorded entirely on location at Anokhi Farm in Jaipur, Rajasthan with additional recordings made in London. It is interwoven with references to the natural environment, making the landscape of Rajasthan the crucial seventh member of the Banwasi Collective.
All the songs on ‘Travellers’ are based on different raags, the Indian music system of notes and moods, each evoking different seasons, times of day and references to nature. It is extraordinarily diverse - with references to Sufi poetry, Hindu mythology and Sassi Punnun, one of the four popular tragic romances of the Punjab. Songs are in Hindi, Urdu, Marwari, Sindhi and Saraiki and take the listener on an immersive journey across religions, water and dry arid landscapes, between Bhakti and Sufi, mortal and divine.