After joining forces with Mumbai-based folk rock band Swarathma in the TV series,The Dewarists,recently,musician Shubha Mudgal has reinvented poetry from the Bhakti movement in her latest album. She has collaborated with American poet and voice artiste Ursula Rucker,music producer Patrick Sebag and sound designer Yotam Agam (popularly known as Business Class Refugees) to bring out No Stranger Here (Earthsync).
Mostly comprising poetry by Kabir,the album is an experiment to push boundaries. Mudgals rendition of Kabirs poetry becomes a reference point for Rucker to add her own stanzas to the tracks. I would just ask for a background groove from Patrick and Yotam and fit the alaaps and poetry around it, says Mudgal,who has sung the nine tracks of the album. I have either chosen a particular doha by Kabir,or an interesting line from his poetry and sung it to the existing groove, says Mudgal.
No Stranger Here opens with a song titled Seraphim Trees,with Mudgal singing an alaap in Raag Khamaj,followed by Drunk in Love where she croons Prem deewana maine hari ke haath. The title track that lyrically describes the contradiction of being a stranger in the familiar world,has Mudgal singing a haunting taraana in the background,while Rucker layers it with poetry in which she calls herself a nomad seeking spirituality.
Another beautiful track,When I was,mixes electronic and Hindustani classical music. It has smooth beats on the cymbals,and synthesiser sounds followed by Mudgals voice singing the famous doha,Jab main tha,tab hari nahi; jab hari hai mai nahi,blended with the sounds of the trumpet.
This album is a collaborative work,and the essence of collaboration is leaving space for other artistes. We all understood each other well and that made it easier to work this out, says Mudgal,who is currently busy organising the Bajaa Gajaa music festival in Pune that will take place next month.