On this page you will find those reviews which did not fit on the individual pages of my CDs. Read more reviews chosing one of the CD titles from my discography.
Yoga: On Sacred Ground
"Don’t let the title of this album fool you. While the scope and sensitivity of Dunster’s journey through the seven chakras will certainly appeal to yoga practitioners, Yoga on Sacred Ground travels much further than its name implies. This is not just music for practicing yoga. This is music you can live by in the fullest sense.
Chinmaya Dunster is a magician on the sarod and as a composer. So often, we hear music that attempts to fuse the Eastern tradition with Western sensibilities and end up with something that lessens both. Dunster knows what he’s doing. He has gone inside the music of India, extracted its essence, and invested his work with spirit and passion in a way that touches the heart of our own experience.
The music is by turns vibrant, plaintive, pulsing with energy, and contemplative. The first track, ’Natrani (Queen of the Dance),’ combines a feminine Indian raga, warmly performed on sarod, with the gypsy flair of Spanish lute. This track leaps up and dances, whirls, shouts, makes life happen. Sarod and guitar share a sublime and subtle musical dialogue in ’On Sacred Ground,’ a theme which is echoed in a major key in ’Ha-Tha.’ The mysterious ’The Watcher’ shimmers with rhythmic and tonal complexities, played in a minor-keyed Indian scale, and contrasts sweetly with the light-hearted joyfulness of the final track.
This is Dunster’s third album on the New Earth label. If you’ve not yet experienced his musical genius, Yoga on Sacred Ground is a great place to start."
New Age Voice, March 2002
With this release, UK-born guitarist Chinmaya Dunster teams up with two virtuoso Indian classical musicians for a live performance of two morning ragas. The performances by Bikram Singh on the bamboo flute, Amano Manish on the slide guitar and Karunesh playing the claypot, are gentle and sweet. The recordings are quiet and Dunster parlays a highly respectable rendering of the ragas.
In all four of the tracks here, which amount to a solid hour of excellent meditation and relaxing music, the instruments are acoustic and very organic. The music was recorded live in India at dawn on a full moon morning. This is the time at which, according to tradition, Buddha reached enlightenment. It is also said to be the time at which he was both conceived and when he left his body.
The album is very consistent and has a lot of shakti flowing in the vibrations of each improvised note. The music is fairly simple and straight-forward in theory, but it is delivered with enough heart such that it just doesn’t matter. It succeeds in sustaining a quiet tranquil tone and allows the meditative process to unfold effortlessly.
Personally, I felt a lot more of a Hindu-Yogic influence in the performance of the ragas, but the artwork suggests a Buddhist connection. Either way, there is plenty of bliss imbibed here. I enjoyed this CD; check it out.
LA Yoga Magazine, March 2008
"Although it’s not quite the fusion of reel and raga suggested by the title, Celtic Ragas features sarod player Chinmaya Dunster and guitarist Vidroha Jamie finding a surprisingly fertile common ground between Irish and Indian music. Dunster and Jamie, along with a group of musicians who play violin, percussion, flute, bass, and tanpura, create gentle soundscapes that range from the playful rhythms of "A Gypsy Tale" to the haunting, almost spooky beauty of "The Mists of Ruantallain."
The arrangements are focused, and even on slow, meditative tracks like "Mere Hamsafar," the tempo never drags and the melodies don’t meander. The mix of Indian and Irish elements works particularly well on "Tara," on which the buzzing, microtonal sound of the sarod meshes with the rhythms of a courtly dance and creates a sonic dream where the musicians of Ireland and India play in the castle of an ancient Celtic king. Dunster and Jamie describe Celtic Ragas as "Indo-Celtic chill-out music," a too-trendy term that nonetheless captures the essence of their soothing sound."
"I love the unique blend of Irish and Indian style music on this record. It has become one of my favorites."
"In the whirling of joyful melodies a sound is born.
It whispers: ‘Greetings, world! Greetings, love!
What a happiness to be here!
Oh, how I longed for all this!’
This music is really a talk of two close friends – an Indian sarod and a guitar. Indian and Celtic music. They are together. They are one whole. The alchemy of Divine music. This music wraps you up. It uplifts and inspires. It delicately helps your life energy to grow strong and takes you high above, in the World of Spirit, in the All-human World. This is the World where there are no East and West, little countries and large ambitions, and where is the All-human Unity, which is beyond Earth. In this Unity East and West are together.
They are together in this planet, being rendered by wars, conflicts and foolishness of people. And Chinmaya Dunster together with Vidroha Jamie let us feel all this by their airy, full of energy and inspired music. They help us to feel and sense the very Life.
What can be more precious than the very Life on this planet? What can be more beautiful than Love? This Love is completely reflected in the music of two perfect musicians. It comes by a strong jet. It alloys together the Celtic and the Indian music, the heritage of two great peoples. It alloys this all together in an equal flow. And we can feel that all the music is ‘poured’ on this planet from the one source. Time to come back. Time to be together. Time to live full life.
Thanks to the two remarkable musicians: Chinmaya Dunster and Vidroha Jamie! This music of Joy and Love weakens heart, fills us with life and let us feel that in this world exists other reality - the Reality of Spirit. This Reality is the real, the largest precious!"
Land of the Buddhas
"Beautifully meditative compositions highlight this collection of Chinmaya Dunster’s best tracks. Take a step onto the Indian subcontinent and into the Land of the Buddhas!
In which we find Dunster and the label taking breather so the uninitiated can catch up with this multi-culti India infused cat. Going way beyond the world beat/chill pale, Dunster takes it back to the Paul Horn vibe and adds contemporary touches as filtered through his prism. Great for college kids or the college kid buried in your suburban patina, all you have to do is put this on and let the belly dancing and pot smoking begin. There’s no noodling here to beware of, just a rolling good time mostly from the sub-continent."
Chris Spector, Midwest Record
Land of the Buddhas
2009 The odyssey that would lead British musician Stephen Dunster to his spiritual name of Chinmaya began during a post-college jaunt through Afghanistan and India, where he studied local music, eventually becoming enamored of the sarod (a kind of cross between sitar and guitar) at a performance by Amjad Ali Khan. Dunster spent the next 13 years studying the instrument, achieving mastery and earning his new spiritual name before returning to his native lands to share what he had learned. Paul McCartney heard him play and was so entranced he invited him to play at his 2002 wedding to Heather Mills. A collection of Dunster's favorite tracks from his 13 albums for the New Earth label, Land of the Buddhas is a clear indicator of what McCartney was so enamored by; it's haunting in intimacy and quietly sweeping in its breadth and scope.
Ranging comfortably over an array of spiritual styles, Land of the Buddhas opens with the straightforward, spiritually rooted "Rag Shivranjani," which blazes warmly along with the spine-tingling slide sound of the tamboura and the tablas of Manish Vyas. Dunster's lyrical sarod later accompanies wooden flute tranquility ("Gir Forest"), classical acoustic guitar ("Chance Finding") and ghostly Asiatic drones in the mysterious "Full Moon," which seethes forward on nerve-tingling Indian slide guitar and clay pot percussion as Dunster's sarod slithers and slides around the shadows, etching in barely tangible forms of divine, transitory figures in the flames.
Whatever the accompanying instruments or style variant, Dunster's sarod is always at the emotional center - at once rooting, homey and forever alien in its mysterious yet comforting sound. We can feel eternity stepping in and out of the river of time like a nervous bather via Dunster's knowingly succinct instrumentation. Land of the Buddhas works both as a meditation/healing arts disc and a great introduction to the sounds of the Indian continent for anyone interested in Eastern spiritual music but not sure just where along the river to dive in. As the artist himself puts it: "If you‚ve ever wondered which Chinmaya Dunster CD to buy, this is it!" With his unerring ear for mixing eastern and western musical ideas, Dunster makes Land of the Buddhas inviting enough for even the most wayward and unwitting lost traveler.
Land of the Buddhas
Chinmaya Dunster was born in England in the 1950s and it was through his world travels into Afghanistan and India as a guitarist that led him to eventually discover the abundant density of the sacred stringed instrument known a the sarod. The sarod is a 19-stringed North Indian creation that could be compared in the West to a guitar or banjo, but with Shakti. Land of the Buddhas is Chinmaya’s latest release and it is an excellent piece of work that invokes the inner beauty of more than simply the instrument, as well as embracing the sacred nature of the ragas he performs with perfection.
With every note, Chinmaya reveals a profound respect for the devotional alchemy of the music he has composed based on ancient scales. “Rag Shivranjani” is a romantic five-note minor scale that is an original composition based on improvisation and intuitive choices. “Gir Forest” delivers a synergy between sarod and a Manipuri influenced bamboo flute performed brilliantly by Bikram Singh.
The pieces on this release are performed with what Chinmaya calls the Celtic Ragas Band which consists of tablas, flutes and additional stringed instruments. The results are gorgeous. I have not been able to stop listening to the beautiful phrases and well-arranged instrumentals found on this collectionof songs that are saturated with compassion, kindness and spirit.
The enduring balance of the musical texture of each of the instruments and the melodic depth of the ragas will invoke sublime harmony and the integration of the inner and material nature of the world. I highly recommend this album to any fan of sacred instrumental music that moves effortlessly through the body. This is the sort of album that can be used for anything from personal enjoyment, meditation, healing environments or yoga classes.
Green Ragas DVD
The perfect blend of medium and message, Green Ragas is an appeal from the heart for awareness and care for this beautiful planet we inherited. This film of Chinmaya's 2010 Delhi concert gives us catchy songs, unforgettable melodies and a digestible dose of 'message'. The music spans genres from all over the planet -Hindustani classical, Cretan folk, a touch of funk and his trademark 'Indian/Celtic' flavour. The musicians too hail from everywhere, India, Crete, Germany, UK.....The accompanying videos (projected onscreen behind the band at the gig) are full of touching images of nature, the people who depend on it and distressing footage of what is being done to them in the name of 'development'. There are just enough facts - on climate change, loss of biodiversity, threats to global food supply - to give these images context. I defy anyone who watches this film not to come away determined to do more to help save Earth (or not to be tapping their feet and swinging their dancing feet!).
Adi Kumar author 'Earth & Humanity'
You can’t help but let go and move your body with this music.