Dreaming the Afterlife
2013 / Sonaljit Mukherjee
Review by Michael Debbage
Every now and then an unknown artist just pops up on the scene and immediately grabs your attention with a very remarkable debut. What is most impressive about Indian composer Sonaljit Mukherjee is that he has emerged with full credibility not only as a performer, composer and producer resulting in Dreaming the Afterlife screaming full label production despite being completely handcrafted.
Ranging from symphonic orchestration to solo pianos, Sonaljit music makes it very clear that he is influenced by both Yanni and Kitaro. But this does not come without his own unique style that includes a very robust underlying classical piano approach despite being completely self taught. The opening title track would fit perfectly on Yanni’s Tribute album due to the wondrous world ethnic influences. This is largely due to heavy presence of the synthetic Japanese shakuhachi flute that has all the warmth of an actual musician being present.
Three of his songs are repeat performances which for many would come across as annoying filler. However with these repeat performances, one set is orchestrated while the other set is stripped down piano performances making for a completely different rendition. The most successful approach can be found on the slow building orchestrated “A Recall Before Silence” that sounds completely different when Sonaljit goes it alone later.
But if you really want to find out what this new artist is totally capable of doing skip forward all the way to the end where Sonaljit closes out the album with the galloping “Colors Of My World”. This hugely impressive symphonic composition parallels the creative threads found in David Arkenstone’s magical musical world. And that is great company to be referred to.
Sonaljit’s music even when it is quiet is by no means shy. This is a bold and confident artist who on occasion overcomplicates his arrangements. But for the most part his unique arrangements are spot on with a heavy use of cross rhythms communicating an underlying progressive feel to it. Dreaming the Afterlife is a stellar debut keeping in mind that it is a completely self created and self composed album during the artist’s commitment to his PhD studies. If this is a taste of things to come when somewhat distracted, imagine what is on the horizon when fully immersed as an artist. Fellow musicians pay attention as you might secure some insight from this impressive rookie.
December 28, 2013