Sheila Chandra

Sheila Chandra

Roots And Wings

Narada World

Although many people have become enchanted with the hauntingly lovely trio of albums Sheila Chandra recorded with Real World, few of us have heard the five solo albums she released before that on the small label Indipop. Roots And Wings is the second of these albums to be reissued by Narada World, and a real find for Chandra fans.

As you might expect, Roots And Wings shows Chandra experimenting with many of the vocal techniques she later refined on her Real World albums. For instance, several tracks are built around a core drone on which Chandra layers differing vocal treatments, from staccato-delivered nonsense syllables (the roots of “Speaking in Tongues III/IV” from The Zen Kiss) to echoing chants and warm swaths of ululating melodies. Her fascination with the vocal styles of many cultures shines through here as well in her tripped-out Indian treatment of the Celtic “Lament of McCrimmon/Song of the Banshee.”

Much of Roots goes heavier on the Indian percussion than some of Chandra’s later work, which suits me just fine. “Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” is a good example of this, with its hypnotic mix of vocals, hand drums, shakers, and other noisemakers; the track somehow manages to capture both the spirit at the heart of these sacred words and the beat that is the heart of life. Pretty much all of Roots is amazing, really, like just about everything Chandra does, with the exception of the rather generic worldbeat fusion on “The Struggle/The Dream” with its rock-y guitars, electronic percussion, and overpowering male vocals. If you missed the original release, this is well worth checking out.

Narada, 4650 N. Port Washington Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53212-1063; http://www.narada.com

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