Cover Art: ©Stevin McNamara. Art Direction: The Magazine of Yoga
Review: Prana Groove
the dl on a meditative percussive Sufi Dervish yoga set
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST EMMANUELLE LAMBERT
Sample, purchase and download Stevin McNamara’s Prana Groove :
Stevin McNamara at White Swan Records
Disclaimer * I am no freaking Lester Bangs and I will never write for Rolling Stone thanks to what I am about to write. I know it, and I’m ok with it *
By now you all know where I come from, what my background is. I am the gal who, age sixteen, wanted to dye a streak of her hair blue. Fast forward almost twenty years later, the stakes are high that the next pair of shoes I am going to buy is a pair of DrMartens©, the same shoes I wore back then.
All right, all cards on the table: I was born in 1977, for punk’s sake! In a way, it’s a miracle that I ever got to go to a yoga class in the first place, let alone embark on the journey that is yoga teacher training.
Eyebrows up: Indian lounge?
I am first and foremost an indie rock chick, notwithstanding a somewhat weird inclination towards the Beastie Boys and Justin Timberlake. I was never one to listen to so-called “new age” music, as it was, well, too new-agey.
Not to mention anything with a flute accompanied with a video shot in a forest fell under that category.
This wariness was the reason why I was a bit skeptical when my yoga paws got hold of Stevin McNamara’s latest release, Prana Groove, available online on White Swan Records’ web site.
Truth be told, I had never heard of Stevin before, nor had I listened to his music of course. It was a real discovery for me, and I first recoiled. Was it some kind of lounge music including fake Indian sounds to surf the wave of superficial spirituality that seems to sell a lot these days?
Acoustic raga : trance : movement
To give you an idea of what I heard, here is the description of Prana Groove on White Swan:
Internationally-acclaimed for his Western interpretations of northern India’s classical music, Stevin McNamara offers you this entrancing journey. His signature acoustic stylings flow freely on a current of meditative percussion -
The melodic element of Prana Groove is based on Rag Malkauns – a profound raga which is to be played late at night (usually midnight) – based on a pentatonic (5 note) scale. The large intervals between the notes create an intense emotional effect on the listener.
The tempo is 108 beats per minute, chosen for it’s sacred Sanskrit value and effect. There are 108 different yet interwoven musical phrases presented throughout the piece.
“I created this music as an adventure into the realm of energy and movement,” Stevin explains.
“I used the ancient musical form of raga coupled with pulse and drum patterns found in trance and other traditions, such as Sufi Dervish ecstatic dance. I offer it as a celebration of life, of our connection to the earth and all living beings.”
Want to know the best part?
Stevin’s music is truly a vibrant celebration of life.
Want to know the part that was left untold? His music will make you travel without moving from your living room.
The blend of guitar and more traditional Indian instruments is, surprisingly enough, not surprising at all and is so nicely done it sounds obvious. It works perfectly to create a meditative atmosphere and let your imagination take over. The somewhat repetitive rhythmic pattern running throughout the whole album, consisting of three parts and a bonus, is actually fairly hypnotic and supports gracefully the trance-inducing melodies.
I will not get all music critic on your mind and will not go more technical than this, instead I’ll tell you about what I feel: when I listen to this music, I feel like running in the woods and dancing my heart out under the moonlight.
Speaking of which, the first part of Prana Groove is entitled Dance of the Midnight Moon. Coincidence? I think not.
This is what I want when I listen to music, any kind of music. I want to be able to set my imagination on fire.
When I close my eyes and listen, I want to be able to visualize landscapes and places I have never even seen with my own two eyes. I want to be transported and moved out of my own body, yet still want the music to resonate with my very core, on a very organic level. I want to feel good once the music stops.
With Stevin’s Prana Groove, this is exactly what you get.
I guess now I stand corrected about yoga music. Let’s light a fire under the moonlight, shall we ?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.