June 2012, Mantralogy Records
Prajna Vieira and Ben Leinbach have come together to create a sonic offering of devotion and creativity. The two friends met while recording Light of the Sun with Prajna’s kirtan ensemble Mukti, which Ben produced. They agreed to one day co-write and co-produce an album of original duets. Amrita is the fruit—a lush rendering of sacred mantras and prayers using diverse world music instrumentation within western songwriting themes.
Collaborating on every aspect of songwriting, performing and producing, Ben and Prajna pushed each other to grow creatively and technically through the music. Light and dark, spacious and opulent, traditional and contemporary—the music walks between aesthetic opposites and calls to the Divine in shifting moods of devotion, love, longing, surrender and peace. Featuring outstanding guest performances from Jai Uttal, Manose, Benjy Wertheimer, Moses Sedler, Radhanath Das, and Greg Mathieson.
Amrita (nectar of the gods) is the magical duet album from Prajna Vieira, the lead singer of the kirtan band Mukti, and prolific mantra-music producer Ben Leinbach. Their sweet, heart-centered vocals are, in a word, celestial.
Amrita blends cultures and musical eras as Western piano and guitar symphonize with traditional Eastern instruments like the stringed esraj (Benjy Wertheimer) and bansuri flute (Manose), intertwining contemporary rhythms with ancient language. All of the Sanskrit kirtans and bhajans on the album are cowritten by Vieira and Leinbach, with the exception of the beautiful Portuguese lyrics of "Mae Divina," an ode to the Divine Mother written by Brazilian yoga teacher (and wife of kirtan musician Jai Uttal) Nubia Teixeira. Uttal lends his familiar vocals to the closing track, "Sarvesam," a soaring, loving-kindness mantra that ends the album on a sublime note of compassion. K.R.
Amrita, Sanskrit for nectar, is the first joint recording by the inspiring songwrit- ing team of producer/multi-instrumen- talist Ben Leinbach and singer Prajna Vieira. Ben, best known for his behind- the-scenes producer role, reveals a won- derful singing voice. His soulful, sensi- tive, and refined vocals blend beautifully with Prajna's pure intonations and grace- ful singing.
The opening track, “Radhe Radhe,” compels us into an ecstatic dance with the Divine. Radha is the supreme praiser, the beloved of Krishna and she is lovingly glo- rified here. Guest musician Benjy Wert- heimer's mystical esraj provides a won- drous backdrop to the sublime harmonies. The Maha Mantra is sung with a sense of awe and sensual sweetness, heightened by the B3 Hammond organ played by Prajna's grandfather, Greg Mathieson. It winds down into an achingly beautiful whisper-like chant.
Prajna and Ben's voices also shine on the heavenly “Keshava Madhava” in praise of Krishna, which features guest musician Manose's bansuri flute playing. Madhav means "the beautiful-haired one" while Keshava is another name for Krishna.
The spaciousness and restrained pacing of Amrita is a treat, with exquisite ar- rangements and soul-filled harmonies, true to bhakti yoga roots yet with a west- ern flavor and contemporary sensibilities, Amrita is the sweetest nectar.... Savor it.
Reviewed by Sarah Garney, a Resonance Healing practitioner, workshop leader, bhakti yogini, and spiritual activist based in Santa Barbara, California: sarahgarney. com or twitter/bhaktibabe
Prajna Vieira's & Ben Leinbach's offering of Amrita, "nectar of the gods" features sacred mantras and kirtan chants in a lushly layered sound ambience featuring diverse world instrumentation with western songwriting themes. Prajna is the lead singer of the kirtan band Mukti and Ben is a well-known mantra-music producer. Their collaboration in these kirtan duets is tryly unique and inspired, both singers' soulful voices blending beautifully together.
From the opening track, Radhe Radhe, we are drawn into their hypnotic spell as they express shifting moods of devotion, longing, surrender and peace. The chants are primarily in minor keys, so that when they occasionally break into a major key it's a sweet surprise. The chants are true to bhakti yoga roots yet with a western flavor and contemporary appeal. Featured on the album are outstanding guest performances from Jai Uttal, Manose, Benjy Wertheimer, Moses Sedler, Radhanath Das and Greg Matheison. This music is nectar for the soul—don't miss it!