(Hearts of Space, 2000)

Rasa is, according to the liner notes, a Sanskrit word meaning, among other things, "the essence of Divine Love." The songs on Devotion are prayers and devotional love songs, many of which were written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the late 19th or very early 20th century.

I have only one thing to say about this CD. Wow. It's amazing, sort of like Enya with an Indian accent. I really regret the language barrier, as the songs are all sung in what I'm assuming is Sanskrit. On the other hand, most of the time I can't pick out Enya's lyrics either, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of her CDs. Nor does it here. I found myself also comparing Devotion to Loreena McKennitt's The Mask and The Mirror.

Much of the music is slow and sinuous, evoking curls of incense, snake charmers or the slowest belly dance. Elsewhere, the listener can imagine dancers whirling in ecstatic trances or kneeling in devout prayer to Ganesh or Shiva.

Rasa consists of singer Kim Waters and classically trained cellist Hans Christian. Waters' soaring voice lends an air of Mystery to her singing; despite the language barrier, the listener is sure that she is addressing Deity. Christian, who is plainly a very accomplished musician, sometimes plays cello, sometimes sarangi, sometimes keyboards. Together they manage to make Indian music not only accessible but enjoyable to Westerners.

Rasa and Devotion have just found spots among the favorites on my CD shelf.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

Buy Devotion from Amazon.com.