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Ka is a superb album by Deepti Navaratna. As far as World Music goes, it’s quite orchestral. The music doesn’t lift you to another place, but provides a refined sensibility after a strong initial statement. There is a plenty of drama in the smooth sounds created by Navaratna and her back-up singers, and it would be an excellent complement to a dance piece. The shifts in musical phrases are quite clear, and it was refreshing to hear the dynamics change as new moments seem to break though.
“Anuswara” begins slowly. It is a welcome surprise for the beginning of the album. The stringed instrumentation sounds thin and light. There are plenty of shifts as the dynamics change in the song, and the mysterious track isn’t too repetitive or without consciousness. Navaratna’s voice slides up and down the scale, the harmonies are quite dissonant.
The second song, “Durga Shloka,” is a bit more complicated, presenting new themes. Background vocalists carrying the track forward, giving the track ad strong, full sound. “Ka’’ is incredibly harmonic. The mixing of vocals and stringed instruments makes for a plaintive feeling and a sense of reverie. “Love Song” begins with light percussion. Navaratna sounds a bit woeful, and the overall composition is layered and haunting. It’s a successful use of counterpoint, and the accents are impressive. Quick movement in the backup track sounds almost like techno. “Pilu" is a great conclusion to the album. With voices flowing in the background, Navaratna echoes her original message. It is still haunting and technically striking.
All in all, this is a thoughtful, complete album. Ka leans toward honest expression, clipping along and never pausing to stumble half-heartedly. At no point does it lack in virtuosity, and fans of world music might appreciate the caliber of the work. The album often finds a brilliance that is resolute.