With a gentle hum that will soon become a full-fledged melodic force, we’re whisked away on a dreamy band of tonality as familiar as it is exotic in “Saraswati Mantra,” the first of eight songs in the album Ê Vidão by Amrita. The rhythm of the instruments collapses from a sluggish grind to that of a fleeting nimbleness typically found more in trip-hop and ambient music than it is anywhere else in the pop lexicon. Amrita don’t seem to mind dabbling in the more indulgent colors their brush can handle here, and in the nearly seven-minute “Home,” their compositional moxie is fully revealed to the audience. Ê Vidão is a prolific journey into the soul of a songcraft, and it’s an undebatable masterpiece of its era.
The title track is the most abrasively imposing, but even when its melodies are wrapping around us unforgivingly, they scarcely feel like anything other than heavenly emissions designed to draw a warm reaction out of the audience every time. “What’s the Yo!” might be the most radio-ready song of any in Ê Vidão, but it doesn’t lack the vitality of the other content on the record as a result of bearing its prime polish. There’s no sacrificing anything for the sake of commerciality in this stunning eight-part wonder from Amrita, and to be perfectly frank, I don’t think they’ve got it in their constitution to do as much in any studio session they’ve been afforded. Their catalogue reflects this, and I wouldn’t be the first to say as much.
Remixes of the Amrita classics “Om Mani Padme Hum” and “For a Friend” find their way into Ê Vidão and mesh epically with all of the other music on this album, but wedged between them in the tracklist lies what could be the most beautiful and engaging work the group has ever conceived in the well-titled “Beloved.” This song is the second shortest of any on the LP, but its piercing sitar’s cry hangs in the air above us long after the whole of the record has come to a conclusion. It’s impossible to extract its reverberating melody from your mind once you’ve been exposed to it for the very first time, and even after a decade and a half up on the shelf it still sounds much more sonically impressive than most any of the American new age I’ve reviewed this year.
“Hine Ma Tov” brings us to the end of Ê Vidão in a brooding moment I wish could last forever, but alas, crosses the finish line and leaves listeners wondering how to process all of the unspoken charisma they’ve just absorbed. Say what you will of the experimentalism prominent in western underground circles at the moment, but the daringness of Amrita in Ê Vidão is something that acts as a perfect example of what dedicated musicianship can produce in ideal circumstances. There’s no getting away from this LP after you’ve offered it a place on your stereo, and to some of us, it would be near-criminal to even consider the thought. All in all, Amrita grant us a memorable listen in this album that I would recommend every music buff indulge in at least once.