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‘Voyage 2’ by Dhruv Ghanekar is an energetic juxtaposition of Indian folk music and global genres

Imagine a room full of the best handpicked musicians, and the perfect conductor to lead them on to the best cross-genre experience. Noted composer, producer, and guitarist Dhruv Ghanekar did exactly that with his latest album ‘Voyage 2.’ A continuation to his album ‘Voyage’ (2015), the album is a “deeper exploration of Indian folk music through Ghanekar’s global lens. It features 10 songs and has a runtime of 47 minutes and 33 seconds and features some of the best instrumentalists and singers the Indian music industry has known.

“Music is not static and is constantly evolving” becomes one of the main themes of the album as it explores Rajasthani, Assamese, and Marathi folk music at its very grassroots while infusing it with elements of reggae, hip-hop, jazz, and other global genres. Starting with ‘Suprabhatam,’ one of the focus tracks in ‘Voyage 2,’ the song marries ancient Sanskrit and Tamil prayers to drum and bass. With influences of Carnatic music with exquisite Konnakkol by Somashekar, the track also features an electric guitar solo that takes on the guise of Veena played by Abhay Nayampally. The Suprabhatam prayer that usually is sung to awaken the deity in the wee hours of the morning becomes the perfect start to the album, with vocals by Nandini Srikar.

‘Voyage 2’ also becomes a celebration of women in folk with all the vocalists in the album being women. Speaking about this, Ghanekar said, “Every voice on ‘Voyage 2’ is an authority in the culture she represents.” Popular Rajasthani singer Ila Arun has lent her seasoned voice to four tracks in the album. ‘Bego,’ a fusion of jazz, funk, and Rajasthani folklore features Ila Arun’s vocals which add a very sassy yet raw texture with Mohini Dey’s iconic bass. The track also has an old funk groove to it thanks to Artur’s saxophone melodies. ‘Nacho,’ another focus track in the album is an energetic concoction of African guitars, Rajasthani folk music, Balkan horns played by Sam Dechenne, and percussion by Taufiq Qureshi. The promotional video for the song was shot in Rajasthan to show their vibrant folk culture. The other two songs to which Ila Arun has lent her vocals are ‘Jadu,’ a mix of Rajasthani music, drum, bass, dub influences, and reggae with Bobkat’s electrifying raps and ‘Charkha,’ which fuses Rajasthani folk with African pop.

The other prominent female vocalist in the album is Kalpana Patowary, a vocal powerhouse from Assam. ‘Voyage 2’ also shows Ghanekar’s deep appreciation for the Assamese culture in three songs, two of which have Patowary in the vocals. ‘Deuri’ is a unique mix of traditional Assamese folk, jazz, funk, and Brazilian music. This Bihu track is a song from the Deuri tribe with funky guitar solos and rap by Illa Straight. Ghanekar’s ability to blend Assamese folk music with other genres can also be seen in ‘O Sorothia’ a traditional folk wedding song from the Barpeta district. Commonly played during the groom’s entrance at the wedding celebrations, the song sees a new twist with influences of reggae, dub, electronica, and rap. The album even finishes off with a cinematic and textural look at the beauty of Assam through flute, guitar, drums, and ambient sounds that can paint the most beautiful of the state in your head.

The album, which acts as a smorgasbord of sounds and styles from all over the country and the world also gives voice to some of the lesser-known folk traditions today like the Marathi Lavni. ‘Jatra’ is a song that juxtaposes Marathi Lavni with Brazilian grooves, Norwegian folk tunes, and Portuguese vocals. This is one such song in the album that shows that everything you hear mildly in the background also makes a difference to the sound on the whole. Written and sung by Vaishali Samant, ‘Jatra’ is truly an eclectic musical experience.

Talking about ‘Voyage 2,’ Dhruv Ghanekar said, “My responsibility as a composer is to draw from all these rich pieces of music across the world and marry them to Indian sounds.” This approach to the album helped him find contrary styles and fuse them at a deep level and truly became a travelogue of different sounds. As he said, the casting of each musician in the album has been done with a lot of thought and has resulted in a marvellous musical experience everyone should witness.

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