– THE PEACEFUL PROTEST –
I once chatted with Nicki Wells after she had performed alongside Nitin Sawhney at Ronnie Scott’s in London and asked her why more of her solo music isn’t more readily available. In particular, I was referring to a track called Ocean that Nitin had recommended on a BBC radio show he’d presented many years before.
To this day, the track is still harder to find than it should be (subsequent to our meeting, the track was released under Wells’ pseudonym Turya) but the most interesting part of the story was not so much the song but her reaction to the question.
It was as if Wells was amazed that anyone was even asking. I was amazed that she was amazed.
As the white singer of classical Indian vocals on Sawhney’s many albums, it’s fair to say she stands out. Her performance of Nadia on Sawhney’s Beyond Skin was transformation in my appreciation of music and, given that that album was released in 1999, it’s fair to say I’ve served my time, waiting for ‘new Nicki Wells’.
Well, finally, I have my wish. Shlokas was released last month and it’s an LP that bears all the hallmarks of what made Ocean and, indeed, Nadia so breath-taking.
The album name, itself, is an ancient Sanskrit word for ‘hymn’ and much of the record has a semi-religious quality to it.
Predominantly accompanied on each track purely by a drone, Wells has created an album designed to “promote a meditative temperament and have a profoundly healing effect on the listener” – something Wells, herself, is passionate about.
Mooladhara is the album’s opener; a track that is as spiritual as it is serene, it is the perfect tone-setter for what is to come.
Shlokas is out now.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
ULY: PAK IT IN
ARLO PARKS: SOPHIE
BROTHER’S TESTAMENT: KINGDOM
NEIL COWLEY + BEN LUKAS BOYSEN: SOLITARY REFINEMENT
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –