New Release Mar 2015 // Painted Caves
Painted Caves: Painted Caves (album promo)
Painted Caves: Painted Caves (AMAR011) CD | mp3
"Like the official house band for the North African Surfer's Guild, Painted Caves navigates the desert sands out of the Near-East, into the African plains, and out beyond the great Western Ocean...Primitive Music For Modern Machines."
| INDIA ORDERS
New Release Mar 2015 // The blue Infinity
The blue Infinity: Unexpected (album promo)
The blue Infinity: Unexpected (AMAR010) CD | mp3
It is hard to pigeonhole the music of The blue Infinity into any one category. The quartet embrace an array of instruments (yayli tambur, santoor, hang drum, guitar) to create ancient trance sounds that are meditative, contemplative, infused with dissonance and a joyous drive.
| INDIA ORDERS
New Release Mar 2015 // Lakha Khan
Lakha Khan: Live in Nashville (album promo)
Lakha Khan: Live in Nashville (AMAR009) CD | mp3
The album features sindhi sarangi maestro Lakha Khan's Nashville concert from his debut US tour in 2013, and includes renditions of popular folk classics such as Kesariya Balam and Mast Qalandar, Sufi kalaams by the 19th Century poets Ghulam Farid and Bulleh Shah, Kabir bhajans and classical ragas. Lakha Khan (vocals, sarangi) is accompanied by his son Dane Khan (dholak).
| INDIA ORDERS
Mohan Lal Lohar, blacksmith and woodworker
Mohan Lal Lohar is folk music’s equivalent of a polyglot---but with an added dimension. Not only can he play every wind, string, bow and percussion instrument native to his Rajasthan, he also makes them. His surname, ‘lohar’ (one who works with iron) denotes his caste and occupation: he is a blacksmith, from a family that has traditionally plied the trade.
But Mohan Lal is different. He combines a talent for music with his craftsmanship. At his workshop in Jaisalmer, the rhythmic beating of a piece of metal gives way within hours to the refined percussion of a freshly made morchang — just cool enough to play. The workshop itself belies what is produced in it. In one of the town’s many open-sewered lanes, it is just a portion of a small courtyard, under a shed that leaks; as much a play area for his goats as it is a place of work.
Lakha Khan, Sarangi maker
Lakha Khan is an acclaimed Sarangi craftsman and musician from the village of Raneri in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. It takes him ten days labouring away on a single block of wood to just carve out this complex musical instrument - a testament to the decades of craftsmanship, persistence and passion for music.Purchase a hand-crafted Sindhi Sarangi
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Speciality: Sarangi. Lakha Khan has four sarangis, each from a previous generation in his family. This instrument is in his blood. Contact us to find out how you can get a Sarangi handcrafted by the master.
Shankara Ram Suthar, Kamancha maker
There is a reason why the kamanchas on view at Manganiyar performances have a charming antiquity about them. They often come stained, patched up, with bits of inlay work missing—all signs that they are in regular use. But they are, almost without exception, also very old.
This is where Shankara Ram Suthar’s story as master kamancha-maker begins. In the early eighties, academics—and musicians—found that no one was making kamanchas any more. They imported a batch of about 16 from Pakistan, where artisans evidently had a bit if stock, and these made their way to collectors and musicians. But with no local craftsmen, there was a problem.
Like the one Sakar Khan had. Sakarji, the greatest living exponent of the instrument (Amarrass will release an album of sessions with him soon), discovered that the mango wood belly of his kamancha had developed a crack. But with no artisans making the instrument, there was no one competent to carry out repairs either. Shankara Ram Suthar, the carpenter by trade and caste, lived near Sakarji in the little village of Hamira, Jaisalmer. The instrument was taken to Suthar, who, knowing it belonged to a master, carried out the repairs meticulously. Sakarji’s kamancha was good to play again.
The fact that the carpenter’s work had passed muster with the redoubtable Sakar Khan drew other musicians to Suthar. He carried out repairs for them, but there seemed to be few fresh orders. This, despite the efforts of government officials sensitive to the fact that the art of making kamanchas was dying: Suthar produced some excellent prototypes for them, but that was about it. If you were just making kamanchas, you were not making a living.
Suthar fell back on carpentry. He would travel to Pune to make furniture for a contractor, as half-made instruments languished in his little workshop in Hamira. He still does what he has to to earn a living, but we are happy to report that he has received fresh orders through the Amarrass Society for Performing Arts. A discerning British collector of stringed instruments (and pensioner), received his kamancha last month and said he was delighted. A second piece will shortly be on its way to the United States. And a third one makes its way to Germany this summer. We are, we hope, seeing the beginnings of a renewal of interest in this unique instrument. (below: our first kamancha sold!)
The kamanchas that are produced in Hamira are special not just because of the high level of craftsmanship that goes into making them. They are also the product of a secular collaboration. The Suthar crafts the wooden portions of the instrument - the sound box, the bow, the neck and so on, but his Hindu religious beliefs forbid him from working with animal hide or gut. Once the skeleton is finished, the Muslim Manganiyars take over, attaching the hide, adding the gut strings and, of course, tuning the instrument to ensure it is perfect. When Sakar Khan is within earshot, nothing less will do.
Shankara Ram Suthar's speciality: Kamancha. This is the instrument that is at the heart of the Manganiyars's music. And the Suthar is the finest maker of it. All he needs is a block of wood of his choosing. To order this unique instrument, write to us or order online:
Amarrass Records India Pvt Ltd
301 Skipper Corner, 88 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019 INDIA
US Office: Amarrass Records
2124 E. Main St., Madison, WI, 53704
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