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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
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By Sukha
Label: Super Symmetry Records
Released 3/11/2016
Rise tracks
1. Ong Namo  
2. Wah Yantee  
3. Rise  
4. Dharti Hai  
5. Gobinday Mukhanday  
6. Humme Hum  
7. Prana Apana  
8. Mul Mantra  
Over the past several years I have learned a lot about mantra-based music. Mantras can be many things, including prayers, invocations, stimuli and at times, eidetic aids. Rise is a collection of 8 mantras sung and performed in a most remarkable way. The music is offered by the band Sukha which is made up of Sukhmani and Sukhaman who expound on the virtues of Kundalini Yoga, but they use an abundance of contemporary elements in their songs. Sukha is the Sanskrit word for bliss and after many listenings, I can attest that this band lives up to its name.

The opening song is called Ong Namo. The Ong Namo mantra is a prayer of preparation. Chanting the words opens your heart, aligning it with the Infinite and preparing to quiet your mind. Sukha performs it as a blues tune, wholly unexpected. The moderate chant falls into play soon thereafter and the rhythm is mesmerizing. I am surprised and delighted as I have heard the tune a hundred times, but never like this. The guitar riffs are dynamic and striking.

Rise, the title song comes on like a ballad. Slow, gentle music and a quiet vocal commences the tune, but as the song progresses the affirmation takes on a more solid shape, giving the prayer substance. The lyrics goes something like:

"What you vibrate you will become, close your eyes and meditate on the One."

Dharti Hai is one of the more fascinating mantras. Dharti Hai means being in the present. With the external stimuli we have to put up with in our daily lives, this particular mantra is important to reconnect with the self and the world within. It is existing in the moment. The tune has a haunting refrain and I liked it for that, as that bluesy presence appears once again. The Earth Is!

I have heard Humee Hum a number of times, but not like this. The music reminded me of something Suzanne Vega would offer. It is poignant, sincere and full of angst. Even the electric guitar is unexpectedly forceful, with a bit of reverb thrown in for good measure. I do not have the wherewithal to even attempt to explain the mantra, but suffice to say that we as mortals are searching for the point of stillness or shuniya. Humee Hum is the gateway.

The Mul Mantra begins with an exquisite guitar lead that is spatial, complex and pleasurable. Sukhmani sings the lyrics in an echoing voice, sounding distant, but contemporaneous. It is almost twelve minutes of bliss. The music meanders as a layered male voice (Yogi Bhajan) builds the chant. The Mul Mantra is the fundamental prayer from which all else is constructed.

All the tracks feature music created by a group of more than a dozen talented musicians. If you weren't paying specific attention to the lyrics, you might imagine that you were listening to a great band playing alternative music. Sukha is not afraid to take on melodic challenges to justify their position. However, for me, knowing that there is solid and deep relation to Yogic wisdom makes the music that much more profound. Faith is a strong influence to any music. I am not a follower, but I was moved on many levels by the purity, the innate beauty, and the devotion of the music. Their novel approach encourages me to learn more. Highly recommended.
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lanan on 11/29/2016
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