SIMON THACKER'S SVARA-KANTI
Simon Thacker's Svara-Kanti is the Scottish virtuoso composer's Indo-Western community devoted to creating new sound worlds through his immersion in the classical, folk and spiritual traditions of the Indian subcontinent.
After beginning as a quartet in 2011, the group has metamorphosed into a collective of different lineups which each focus on innovating on four different aspects of the vast musical macrocosm that exists on the Indian subcontinent: Hindustani classical (north), Carnatic classical (south), Punjabi folk (west) and the Bengali mystical folk Baul tradition of both India and Bangladesh (east). Joining forces with Simon on this journey are some of the greatest performers from their respective traditions. Each has a unique, compelling approach to their art, and the rare ability to go beyond the extremities of what has been done.
GUITAR/VIOLIN/TABLA TRIO (UK BASED): music full of synergy and telepathy that is beyond labels of Indian and Western genres, but which could not exist without the antecedents of both. Featuring violinist Jacqueline Shave, leader of Britten Sinfonia and one of the UK's most in demand orchestral leaders, and Sukhvinder Singh "Pinky", one of India’s most dynamic percussionists whose many achievements include performing on the Grammy Award winning album A Meeting by the River by Ry Cooder and V.W. Bhatt. Transcendent composition, telepathic improvisation, Thacker's "supra-raga" approach, and a highly personal rhythmic language sees three great performers straining at their limits together in total synchronicity.
BAUL (TRIO): this formidable trio sees Thacker’s innate gift for reinvention and expansion unite with one of India’s spiritually and musically richest forms, the spiritual folk Baul tradition of Bengal. It also features Raju das Baul, a mesmerising exponent from the Baul heartland of Santiniketan, and Kolkata based Hindustani tabla player Sunayana Ghosh, who also has deep love of folk music. In Baul culture Simon found a tradition with the same freedom of spirit and depth of expression that has defined his own individualist path. Baul culture is one of the longest surviving examples of wandering minstrelsy, imbued with mysticism and universal messages of love and truth. The trio has played at the Sacred Pushkar in Rajasthan, one of India's major sacred music festivals, Dhaka International FolkFest for an audience of 60 000 and at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of the prestigious Made in Scotland showcase.
BAUL (QUARTET): Simon also expands the Bengal based Baul trio with the outstanding singer Farida Yesmin, from Kushtia, Bangladesh, who first joined Svara-Kanti in their debut at the Dhaka international Folk Fest in 2016, before featuring in their latest album Trikala. Farida is one of the very greatest singers from the East Bengal tradition, and in adding her to his vision for the form, Simon unties Bengal again in one remarkable ensemble. The quartet made its UK tour debut in March 2020, taking it's unique take on the Baul tradition to many new audiences across the country.
CHENNAI BASED CARNATIC (QUARTET): the (until now) largely unexplored combination of classical guitar and Carnatic percussion ensemble creates such a wonderfully unique and complementary sound that one would assume they were separated at birth, not from two radically different traditions and aesthetics. The Carnatic influence on Simon's music has been profound and he considers it a tradition remarkably analogous to his own natural rhythmic inclinations and a major reason for the freedom to express through rhythm he now feels. In Neyveli B. Venkatesh (mridangam), K.V. Gopalakrishnan (kanjira) and N Guruprasad (ghatam), three luminaries of Carnatic percussion, Simon found the perfect foil for his explorations.
UK/PUNJAB (QUARTET or QUINTET): both the Rakshasa and Trikala albums each feature three of Simon's radical reimagings of classic Punjabi folk songs. Ignoring the last 30 years or so of Punjabi music history, he goes back to the roots and offers a new vision extending the form with flights of instrumental hyper-interactivity, a web of dramatic harmonic shifts in guitar and strings and often manic intensity, all for virtuoso performers from India and the UK. Trikala features performances by two great singers, Afsana Khan from Bhatinda, Punjab, and UK based Japjit Kaur, with the nucleus of Jacqueline Shave (violin) and Sukhvinder Singh "Pinky", also often including Justyna Jablsonka (cello). Working with the next generation of Punjabi folk singers will be a major pillar of the group's work moving forward.
"One wonders whether in a past life Simon Thacker was a Bengali itinerant Baul mystic musician or perhaps a South Indian master of mridangam. Such is his grasp of the techniques and spirit of India’s disparate musical styles...a major statement in the co-evolution of Indian and Western music." Songlines Magazine (UK)
"Simon Thacker’s musical experiments are joyously unconventional....Unlike fusing several genres, what Thacker and his team have done is create their own musical tradition." The Hindu, India
"A clear spiritual kinship with the great post-Coltrane quest for transcendence...Thacker’s brilliant ensemble have found their metier." Jazz Journal (UK)
"Stellar classical guitar picking and percussion work with delightfully cascading rhythms" Rolling Stone India
"Strikes an exquisite balance between traditional Indian music and modern composition while exploring the former's relationship with other genres." The Australian
"The Scottish classical guitarist was a refreshing element...There was no attempt at 'fusion' -- something that urbanite and westerners often try with our folk music -- but just a seamless amalgamation." The Dhaka Daily Star (Bangladesh)
“Simon forges and explores new genres by combining his knowledge and love of music from every corner of the globe.” Dawn (Pakistan)
THE COMPLETE TRIKALA ALBUM VIDEO SERIES: