After releasing the lushly orchestral Chakram by Kripamoya Das in 2011, the London-based Radha Krishna Records is turning up the “epic” dial even higher this May with Ananda Monet’s Inevitable Time, based on the ancient history Mahabharata.
Radha Krishna Records, launched at Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara’s 40th anniversary in 2009, aims to release spiritual albums with high production values that will inspire appreciation for kirtan and a Krishna conscious message in a broad audience.
Like the label’s other releases, Inevitable Time is mixed at Metropolis, a studio used by Madonna and Michael Jackson; and produced by Jagannath Suta Das, who has worked for Universal Music and Sony and produced the eponymous single Night People which sold more than half-a-million copies world-wide.
Jagannath Suta Das at the sound mixing table
The album is in a grand film score style, with music arranged by Pete Booker, who has worked with New Age artist Pia (Gaurangi Dasi) as well as the BBC and Channel 4.
The music -- which rises from gentle valleys to bombastic peaks but always stirs the emotions – accompanies the powerful, soaring voice of Ananda Monet. A professional singer who released a pop album in her native Russia and is a key player in London’s kirtan scene, Ananda has been a Krishna devotee since she was a child. So finding the right lyrics to tell highlights from the devotional epic Mahabharata was a very personal process for her.
Most of the lyrics she extracted from ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada’s editions of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, which contain portions of the Mahabharat story. Only two songs contain lyrics taken from the Kisahari Mohan Ganguli Mahabharat, which is considered the most scholarly reproduction of the epic text, because the relevant pieces could not be found in Prabhupada’s works.
What’s interesting is that Inevitable Time is sung entirely in the original Sanskrit from these sources. The translations will be included in the album’s accompanying booklet for those who want to understand the story.
“It’s really meaningful to me, though, that even without understanding the translations, people will pick up benefit from the songs,” says Ananda.
She quotes Srila Prabhupada in a 1969 conversation with George Harrison and John Lennon: “So Vedic mantras are sung. This whole Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, can be sung very nicely. And it is Vedic mantra, chanting. Simply by hearing the vibration, people will be benefitted. Even [if] they do not understand.”
But understanding will add to the experience, for this is an album packed with deep, life-changing meaning.
“It’s called Inevitable Time because the whole album talks about the paradox between human suffering and the soul’s eternal connection with Krishna,” says Ananda. “Time will destroy everything, but not that connection.”
The title track, a gorgeous heartfelt ballad driven by piano and strings that builds to a goosebump-inducing crescendo, is a death-bed monologue by Kuru patriarch Bhismadeva after he falls in the Mahabharata’s climactic battle of Kurukshetra.
Bhisma first speaks enlightening words of wisdom to his family members gathered around him. Then he offers beautiful prayers to Lord Krishna, who is also present. “May my Lord, who is fourhanded and whose beautifully decorated lotus face, with eyes as red as the rising sun, is smiling, kindly await me at that moment when I quit this material body,” he says.
Another heartwrenching highlight, Draupadi – Born of Fire, features the original Sanskrit prayers of the great Pandava queen as she beseeches Krishna to save her from being disrobed by the evil Kauravas. “O Govinda, save me who am distressed, who am losing my senses in the midst of the Kurus. I devote myself completely to you, Krishna,” she calls out.
Meanwhile Eternal Soul comprises of the deeply comforting verses from the second chapter of Bhagavad-gita describing the soul as imperishable and saying that there was never a time when we did not exist, nor shall we cease to be in the future. Universal Form is Arjuna’s description of Krishna’s wondrous and terrible all-encompassing form, and his plea to the Lord to return back to his familiar four-armed figure. Weapon brings us into the heat of the battle as two brahmastras threaten to destroy the world.
The album's trailer
And The Axiom concludes the album with the last verse of the Bhagavad-gita: “Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power and morality. That is my opinion.”
All this is wrapped up in eye-popping cover art by artist Mukesh Singh, who illustrated Eighteen Days, a futuristic reimagining of the Mahabharat by Batman and Superman comic book writer Grant Morrison.
For Inevitable Time, Singh has adopted a slightly more traditional mood, but his originally commissioned artwork is still unlike anything you’ve seen before. The front cover depicts Lord Krishna, surrounded by blazing flames, returning to his original four-armed form after showing Arjuna his universal form. The inside sleeve opens up into a panoramic painting of Krishna and Arjuna blowing their conchshells as a teeming array of fierce warriors prepare to launch themselves into battle.
The album is set to be released in May 2015 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Krishna.com, and Radhakrishnarecords.com. An Indiegogo campaign to raise the last funds needed to complete the production is underway, and perks for pre-ordering different versions of the album include live kirtan concert tickets, posters and canvas paintings of the sleeve artwork.
“I think that the amount of effort we’ve put into it this album is what makes it so unique,” says Jagannath Suta. “I hope it can give listeners realizations like they’re the soul, not the body; there’s more to life than just a nine-to-five job; and there is something greater than us. Ultimately, I hope it can kickstart their spiritual lives.”
* * *
To pre-order 'Inevitable Time' and receive one of many perks, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/inevitable-time-mahabharata-cd-ft-ananda-monet/x/7194540inevitable-time ] [ mahabharata ] [ music ] [ radha-krishna-records ]