Review | Songlines

Atma (The Soul)

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Roopa Panesar


Asian Arts Agency


UK-based sitar player Roopa Panesar's latest album, Atma (meaning soul) is said to be ‘theperfect album for a troubled world.’ Panesar composed this music at a time of great personal loss alongside global turmoil, while reflecting on the challenges of life. The album features seven relatively short tracks, each based on a classical raga and reflecting a range of human emotions – love, grief, the pain of separation and, ultimately, blissful reunion.

As one of very few UK-based female sitar players, Panesar has an impressive international presence, her fame spreading beyond the world of Indian classical music. Accompanied by some of the UK's leading Indian classical and jazz musicians, Panesar's sitar provides a fluid meeting point where traditional Indian instruments, sitar, santoor (Indian dulcimer), tabla, as well as the South Indian ghatam (clay-pot drum) and mridangam (ancient barrel-shaped drum) are blended with double bass and guitar to produce a mix that successfully juxtaposes varying emotions. For instance, ‘In Another Life’ is tinged with the poignancy of separation from a loved one while ‘Awakening’, composed in raga Basant (Spring), conveys a note of immense joy. Like the bird which sings after a storm, although this is music born out of sadness, it is, nevertheless, infused with more than just a glimmer of hope and optimism.

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