Breath of the Heart

Krishna Das

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Breath of the Heart Review

by Kelly McCartney

According to ancient Indian scriptures and saints, the traditional practice of chanting God's name -- be it Krishna, Rama, Ganesh, or another of the numerous deities -- is a tried and true path leading to union with the divine. Kirtan is one of the main forms of this practice, wherein a leader sings out the call and a group echoes with a response. Breath of the Heart is a live recording of Krishna Das in such a setting. Of course, being a westerner, he rounds out the sound with a little more than the customary harmonium and drum of the "motherland," adding Rob McDonald's solid electric bass, Lili Haydn's exquisite though underused violin, and Steve Gorn's mystical bansuri flute, along with various percussion and such. A single kirtan can go on for as long as the leader feels appropriate, although here Krishna Das limits the pieces to not more than 15 minutes or so. That's just enough to get you going before he moves on to the next, which is good for newcomers but perhaps frustrating for true practitioners. For the result is a quick build that doesn't allow you to so much linger in the melody, but rather pulls you along with the rhythm. It's a forgivable consequence when taking his audience into consideration. Nevertheless, with Rick Rubin at the production helm and topnotch musicianship supporting Das' instantly recognizable voice, the combination is a truly enjoyable, and possibly enlightening, offering.

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