Dial M for Mantra


By Alan di Perna  |  

Dial M for Mantra, by Jai Uttal.
Sounds True; soundstrue.com

Dial M for Mantra is hardly the first album to fuse devotional Sanskrit mantras with the cool sounds of electronica. But it is one of the most masterful discs yet to appear in the exciting hybrid genre. On this disc, kirtan leader and musician Jai Uttal is well matched with remix master Rara Avis. Collaborating with members of the musical collective Shaman’s Dream World Groove Ensemble of Los Angeles, Avis has deftly deconstructed and recontextualized 10 tracks culled from Uttal’s albums Loveland, Pranayama, Music for Yoga and Other Joys, and Kirtan! The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant.

Avis works primarily in downtempo—a chilled-out genre suited to asana class or the hippest cocktail lounge. Like all good remixers, Avis digs deep into Uttal’s original tracks, bringing his once half-buried rock-and-roll guitar front and center. But amid the funky grooves and tranced-out synth loops, Uttal’s commanding vocals stand out in the mix, as do the sacred mantras that form the basis and raison d’etre for each track.

Dial M for Mantra plays equally well in a car, living room, or nightspot. Longtime Uttal fans will enjoy hearing old favorites in a whole new way, while newcomers to both Uttal and mantra will be enticed, entranced, and divinely intoxicated.