Thursday, 7 June 2012

EXCLUSIVE: The UKAsian given exclusive preview of 2nd Raghu Dixit album

The UKAsian has been given an exclusive preview of the Raghu Dixit Project's second album and we can report that the long wait for the Project’s sophomore effort has been utterly worthwhile.

This writer was given a tantalizing taste of the album’s first four songs at a rather hastily-put-together editing suite in North London recently.
The name of the album is a closely guarded secret and it is tentatively slated for release towards the end of this year and fans of the Project's unique brand of folk music will not be disappointed.

One of Raghu's long-stated ambitions has been to travel solo the length and breadth of India collaborating with the country’s myriad array of folk musicians.
For this, the follow up to his self-titled first album of 2008, Raghu - it seems - has temporarily put on hold that rather blissful domestic aspiration and instead gone international, collaborating with the likes of English folk music band Bellowhead, London-based Sarod player Soumik Datta and even a Scandinavian orchestra, to take his music to a whole new level.

Since the Project's explosion on to the UK music scene following their appearance on Live! with Jools Holland the band has been a regular fixture on the Festival circuit, performing at events as varied as Glastonbury, Larmer Tree and Alchemy as well as making rather more unexpected appearances on political discourses like the Andrew Marr Show.

But whilst fans have continued to lap up increasingly more energetic performances of such iconic Raghu Dixit hits as 'Mysore se Aayi', 'No Man Will Ever Love You...' and 'Hey Bhagvan', a yearning for more has doubtless crept in.

On the evidence presented to The UKAsian, that yearning is soon to be sated.
Given the immensely evocative nature of his music - the cornerstone of the band's popularity - it was difficult to imagine the next stage of Dixit's musical progression.

Mercifully, Raghu has kept things simple in that that progression is linear and evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The folksy inspirations are still very much present but there is a complexity to the music that is alarmingly beautiful.

A myriad array of instruments and instrumentalists lend the album a vibrancy that is signature Raghu Dixit, on a whole new level.

But whilst Parth Chandiraman's flute and Datta's Sarod provide an almost mystical energy to the songs, Raghu Dixit's effortlessly joyous voice still commands centre stage.

It is a phenomenal thing, that voice; redolent with emotion and elegance and perhaps even able to make such things as albums slightly redundant in that no album could match Raghu's on-stage energy.
The Project is said to be considering doing a live album but the hectic touring schedule and recording for the second album is currently taking up an exhausting amount of its time.

New Fans
It might be four years since the release of 'Raghu Dixit' but the likes of 'Mysore Se Aayi' keep finding new fans, particularly in the UK.
The Project were described as the best on show at the recent Bushstock Festival in West London.
This writer witnessed the second half of the band's set - staged inside a beautiful, 163-year-old church in Shepherds Bush - and the incessant laryngitis and flu that blighted Raghu's appearance at Alchemy 2012 earlier this year seemed a very distant memory as the bohemian - overwhelmingly white - audience took to the aisles, leaping in step with the band.
This weekend the band will headline the Salisbury International Arts Festival in Wiltshire (Saturday June 09) before appearing at the exclusive members club Shoreditch House in East London (Sunday June 10).

Birmingham Town Hall will host the Project on June 13 before two gigs in Scotland, including at the Solas Festival in South Lanarkshire.

The band then head south again for a performance at the iconic Brighton Dome before Raghu heads right back up to Edinburgh where he will open the prestigious TED Conference 2012 (Technology, Entertainment and Design).

The event will see the singer follow the likes of Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, and Bangladeshi American educator Salman Khan by presenting what inspires him in a maximum of 18 minutes: unsurprisingly, the presentation will be of an innovatively musical nature.

The Project's summer tour of the UK will also take in performances at the Larmer Tree Festival, WOMAD and the Cambridge Folk Festival.
- Viji Alles
For updates, gigs and tickets, visit
Photo Courtesy of Carl Spring Photography

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