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Ushering a Peaceful New Age: Deepak Chopra's Leela

Ushering a Peaceful New Age: Deepak Chopra’s Leela

March 5, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Ushering a Peaceful New Age: Deepak Chopra’s Leelaon Twitter

You don’t know who Deepak Chopra is? If you’re bored, peruse his Wikipedia entry. But here are the pertinent parts:

Deepak Chopra is a doctor. He is also big on mind/body connections, alternative medicine, new age Hindu philosophy, and ridding oneself of negative emotions. He was also creative director for a new “game” (I use the term loosely) on Xbox 360 and Wii called Leela. The name is a Sanskrit word that refers to leisure, play, or recreational activity.

For those quick to criticize the concept, I’d like to give you the age-old advice “don’t knock it til you try it.” As you may have put together in my soundtrack review for Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I’m not averse to “New Age” either as music or as a philosophy toward life. And who doesn’t like to relax? Norihiko Hibino gave us a similar opportunity in his iPhone sleep-aid app Prescription For Sleep. And that was awesome, so why not this? Besides, it’s not like Chopra is actually writing the music himself. He turned to a variety of New Age/World Music artists for that.

After the jump, our review for the two disc album Deepak Chopra’s Leela: body.mind.spirit.play. soundtrack., which deserves a special award for having such a unique name.

Okay, you need a tracklist. You need to see the symmetry to understand it.

Disc One: Play Mixes
01 – Origin (by Brent Arnold)
02 – Life (by Garth Stevenson)
03 – Power (by Karim So)
04 – Love (East Forest)
05 – Harmony (by phōwa)
06 – Intuition (by Daniel Perlin)
07 – Unity (by Keith Fullerton Whitman)

Disc Two: Reflect Mixes
01 – Muladhara (by Brent Arnold)
02 – Svadhisthana (by Garth Stevenson)
03 – Manipura (by Karim So)
04 – Anahata (East Forest)
05 – Vishuddha (by phōwa)
06 – Ajna (by Daniel Perlin)
07 – Sahaswara (by Philippe Pascal Garnier)

Get it? One artist per track, two forms of each track (with one exception, that being the lengthy final track on each disc).

I’m going to spoil for you what was a big surprise for me. I suspected disc one to be like an OST, and disc two to be some ambient electronica arrangements. As it turns out, the majority of the synthesized/electronic music you’ll hear is on the first disc.

That’s right: the “Reflect” mixes are almost entirely acoustic, and when they’re not acoustic, they lack a strong percussive backbone. These are truly the meditative tracks on disc two. You can get lost in them and, as the disc title suggests, reflect.

Disc one, in fact, seems to take the less structured, traditional East Asian ethnic performances from the second disc and “mix” them into something more rhythmic, more fun, more playful. And certainly, more palettable to the Western ear.

That said, I can’t decide which disc I like more, for any given track or for the discs as a whole. They both serve their own purpose.

As for the individual compositions, what can I say other than “your mileage may vary” …? I have my favorites (the opener, Origin / Muladhara, is extremely impressive). Some songs are too slow to have a discernible melody, but others (like “Power”) have a very clear song structure and melody. Each song works well, and this is a great collection of music that may help you to let go of the stresses and worries of the day. The week. The month. Or even the year. (apologies to The Rembrandts and Friends.)

I guess what I’m trying to say, in my own rambling kind of way, is that I have a soft spot for this genre, and I’m happy to see it applied to an experimental title like Deepak Chopra’s Leela. Many people will find this music to be little more than vanilla background noise, but others (like myself) can use it as an aid for relaxation. If you want to pick it up, it’s a Sumthing Else release, catalog number SE-2094-2.

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