Mychael Danna

Water [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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Water, an ambitious Indian-Canadian co-production, is a film set in the waning days of British rule in India. Its score is a collaboration between Canadian film composer Mychael Danna (who has worked with Indian musicians in the past) and Indian film-music king A.R. Rahman, whose most widely publicized enterprise in the West has been his score for the gigantic Lord of the Rings stage spectacle in Toronto. As a collaboration, it's fascinating. Viewed broadly, the relationship between Indian and Western music has resulted, perhaps, in deeper fusions than other East-West musical meetings, perhaps because the two cultures have been mixing for so long. (Someone once pointed out that the subjunctive mood, which is dead in America and on life support in Britain, is making its last stand in the streetcars of Mumbai.) The depth of the musical interchange has rarely been demonstrated more vividly than in this score. Danna's role in the score was to provide the usual background music for various scenes. He uses a wide variety of traditional Indian instruments, featuring sitar sensation Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi, prominently on several numbers. Rahman, working with several lyricists, contributes Hindi-language songs (tracks 4, 7, 12, 14, and 19); these, as is the norm in Indian film music, are accompanied by a mix of Indian percussion and a small Western-style string orchestra (here the Chennai String Orchestra conducted by J. Srinivas Murthy). Despite all the mixing of instrumental sounds, there is no doubt which music is Indian and which is Western. Special mention should go to Danna for his superb technical realization of this complex concept. Despite having been recorded at various studios on at least two different continents, all the music comes together in a sonic extravaganza. The subtlest sounds of Shankar's sitar come through clearly, as does a small bell that adds a delightful flavor to several of Rahman's songs. This disc should find several different audiences, including listeners following Danna's fast-rising career (his score for Capote is another that has won praise), those who have gone to see The Lord of the Rings and want to sample some of Rahman's purely Indian music without plunging headlong into the wild world of Indian film music, and those who are simply interested in the phenomenon of cross-cultural musical collaboration generally.

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