Released on 11th June, 2013.
© Sonaljit Mukherjee.
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist Information: My name is Sonaljit Mukherjee. I am an Indian composer in the new age genre, and work preferably on instrumental music. I am completely self-taught, and have no professional training in any form of music or art. I learned to play the piano by ear/listening. All my musical ventures are on the basis of self-study and self-training. ‘Dreaming the Afterlife’ is my debut release.
Production Credits: All the music in this album has been composed, orchestrated, recorded, mixed and mastered single-handedly by myself in my home studio using my keyboard and computer. I have not hired or worked with any other artist for producing this album.
Album Information: ‘Dreaming the Afterlife’ is a collection of contemporary new age instrumentals with a blend of ethnic fusion and symphonic orchestral flavor. Each of the tracks depicts a dream, an imagination, or a feeling that I have experienced and cherished during different phases of my life. I will try to elaborate them below.
Dreaming the Afterlife:
Dreaming is a common experience for us while being asleep. Some dreams are blurred. Some are comparatively clearer and more distinctly felt. I once had this dream. I was standing by the edge of a cliff, staring at a blue planet surrounded by clouds, and a distant star. There was a mesmeric ambiance all around which kept me transfixed for a while, until the star exploded, transforming into an incandescent fireball. I woke up shortly afterwards; but I remember saying to myself in my dream that this is something that I would see for real in the afterlife. The remnants of the dream in my memories held my heart and mind in captivity for days, and I decided to compose an instrumental that would aptly depict its essence. This decision, in course of time, paved the way for the making of this album.
All instrumental sounds including the piano, Japanese shakuhachi, guitar, bass and drums were played and sequenced through my keyboard and computer. The album artwork is a detailed visualization of what I saw in my dream. It was formed by combining different photographs of clouds and Sun, by my friend Anshuman Dubey.
A Recall before Silence:
This music is about the thoughts of a person in his deathbed, whose heart is about to stop beating. Anticipating that there is only little while left before the light gets flipped out, he makes an attempt to recall the memories of his life involving the ones he has knew and loved. I composed the music in different phases following his feelings prior to his death, which I am describing below.
Rainfall, and a feebly beating heart of a man in his deathbed. A blank mind far away from the mundane world, awaiting the eternal silence to come. Then a sudden spark of a sweet memory ignites his senses and urges him to recall. He attempts to unravel the memories from the deepest corners of his mind, including the ones he had known and loved; and slowly the sweet nectar keeps flowing in. Being immersed in the ocean of his memories, he hopes he can live for a little longer. But when the time comes, no matter how hard we try, we succumb to the forces of nature. He feels a sudden excruciating pain in his chest. His brain slowly shuts down. The castle of memories that he had built in his mind crumbles. The mind goes blank.
Sound of rainfall fading away; and a feebly beating heart, slowing down, and down. Lights out.
All orchestral sounds including violin and cello ensemble, and piano were arranged through my keyboard and computer. The mixing and mastering was done on my computer.
Nodi Ontoheen (River Endless):
In Bengali, ‘nodi’ stands for ‘river’ and ‘ontoheen’ stands for ‘endless’. This music is inspired from a certain genre of Bengali folk songs known as ‘bhatiali’ songs. They are usually written for boatmen (called ‘majhi’ in Bengali) who spend their lives fishing in river waters. The word ‘bhatiali’ is derived from ‘bhata’, which means downstream.
I also did an improvisation of an Indian Classical raga called Jhinjhoti, using Indian santoor, piano, and violin/cello ensemble sounds from my keyboard.
Waiting for Love:
“She was a woman like any other. She walked into my life and wrapped me with the aura of her love. For a while it seemed like heaven. But then she was gone, leaving behind pain, anguish and unanswered questions. But still, to this day I could not forget her. I saw the light of love in her eyes, and thought they would the guiding stars for the rest of my life. But I was wrong. I looked at her smiles, and presumed that they were imbued with affection. But they were just smiles, nothing more. But still, to this day I could not forget her.”
The paragraph above is an English translation of a romantic Bengali song written by my dad Indrajit Mukherjee, many years ago when he was a singer and songwriter trying to make a move into the Bengali music industry. The song never came to light, until now in the form of this instrumental. There are two versions. One is a piano solo capturing the basic tune. The other one is orchestrated using piano, acoustic guitar, violin and cello ensemble, flute, drums, bass and vibraphone sounds from my keyboard.
The Road to Limelight:
The agony of artists struggling for recognition, trying to make the world feel their feelings, is something that only an artist can discern. This music portrays the struggle and pain of an artist. I made this music in different phases. At first there is a realization of potential. Then comes determination. And eventually the phase of struggle begins. However struggle and success do not walk hand in hand. The artist experiences failure, and a phase of depression and hopelessness follow. However, determination gets back in command, and he works even harder. Finally the hard work and sweat pays off, and he sees the limelight (meaning success in this context).
I tried to give a symphonic orchestral feel to the music by adding violin, cello and brass ensemble. The main tune is played in piano. I also added a piano solo version of this music. I added the word ‘limelight’ after being inspired from Charlie Chaplin’s movie Limelight. Part of the reason behind adding that word was that, I could relate some characters of that movie with my dad (he is a singer and songwriter) who went through a lot many difficult times trying to make a move into the Bengali music industry.
Even though I tried to portray the life of an artist reaching limelight, it does not always happen in real world. Several unfortunate souls perish without having been able to show the world their wonders. Only a few are fortunate.
Colors of the World:
I imagined a stage floating in the sky. It is visible from every corner of our planet. People from different cultural origins, in different dresses and costumes, are dancing to a music together on that stage. Wondering what would such a music be like, I came up with this instrumental.
I used a wide variety of plucked, bowed, wind and percussion instrumental sounds in this music. Notable ones are the Japanese koto, Armenian duduk, Japanese shakuhachi, Indian bansuri, European dulcimer, Indian santoor, violin and cello ensemble, Peruvian cajon, Mongolian hengereg drum, Indian duffli frame-drum, electric piano, bass guitar and a few more. Different instruments from different cultural origins all over the world provide colors to this music; hence the name ‘Colors of the World’.
I dedicate this album to my mom and dad who inspired me to dream and chase dreams.
I am grateful to my friends Anshuman Dubey, Siddhartha Maiti, Prasun Chatterjee and Santhosh Narasimha Moorthy for their friendship and support. Especially, the encouragement that I received from Anshuman for making this album, was unparalleled. He also did the photography for the cover picture.