It is impossible not to be impressed – and a bit overwhelmed – by Ananta Govinda’s “Mirror of Desire” project. It is the title of a music album, a fantasy novel, an iPad app and a 360° Media Experience. In terms of music, it is a collection of eight extraordinarily well-made songs. There is a genre-defying touch to Ananta’s music that fits well with the fantasy theme. To a New Age music fan, “Mirror of Desire” is a genuine treasure chest. There are so many levels of sound and meaning to explore. I have had it on constant repeat for three weeks, and I still discover new things. “Mirror of Desire” is, in short, a complete entertainment package.
Ananta Govinda is a musician, author, photographer, and multimedia producer. Born and raised in post-communist Russia, Ananta enjoyed his childhood on the banks of the mighty Volga River. From early on, his parents taught him the value of music and art and encouraged him to attend an after school music academy for piano and music theory for seven years. He enrolled in a two-year college program in Los Angeles, and in 2001 he released his second self-produced album, “Nuclear Angel“. Ananta settled in San Francisco and currently works out of Marin County. His most recent albums are “Morning Rising” (2017) and “Precious Jewels” (2017). “Mirror of Desire” is his sixth full-length album.
Mirror of Desire
The combination of music and literature is perhaps not rare (as it happens, Andreas Vollenweider is also releasing a music/novel project this fall) – but in New Age music we are mostly used to guided meditations, and not complete novels. The book will be released on October 30.
The title track opens the album, and sets the bar incredibly high. It is one of those songs that takes hold of the listener and doesn’t let go. It contains Sanskrit chants by Ananta (inspired by Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu) and ambient guitar by Alex Liapin. The idea behind “Mirror of Desire” is “about facing your own personal reflection on the path of the Pilgrim and deepening the understanding of the inner workings of your personality,” according to Ananta. “It’s about having courage to face and accept with love and gratitude the better version of yourself.”
“Mirror of Desire” is all in all a fabulous introduction to the album – and there is no doubt that Ananta is working with world-class artists (see the complete list of collaborating artists below – it is impressing, to say the least). The recording, mixing and mastering is spotless. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself:
Next out is “Self Writing Book”. It has a playful touch of reggae and ragga style chants. I’m fascinated by the lyrics and the concept of a self-writing book, which is “a magical device that knows past, present and future and enables the written into reality by playing back the mystical slates,” according to the album description. I love the complexity of the soundscape, right down to the sound of the clicking clock, vocalization and icy synths. Sylvia Massy is perhaps not a name that is familiar to you (she is more famous in the world of rock), but in the capacity of mixing engineer, she helped with the overall direction of the album and made “Self Writing Book” into a one-of-a-kind song.
At this stage, we are introduced to the Golden Goddess. It is a song about the Divine Feminine energy, embodied in the personality of Goddess Radharani. The rhythm is terrific, thanks to the always fantastic Will Calhoun. The piece also features Alan Tower on the hung and John Wubbenhurst on bansuri flute. The track was mixed by Grammofonstudion, Sweden, confirming that only the best is good enough for “Mirror of Desire”. One word; perfection.
By now it is apparent that “Mirror of Desire” is just as much about a journey of the mind as a physical adventure (I guess this goes for the book’s storyline as well). “Mazes of the Mind” a collaboration with Grammy Winner Lili Haydn, which both sings and plays the violin. Overcoming distractions is essential, both for ordinary people like you and I – and pilgrims on the path to the Mirror of Desire. “Mazes of the Mind” has a nice chilled vibe.
Onto the Timelessness
“Onto the Timelessness” is one of my favorites. Its hypnotic sound is truly extraordinary; this is cutting-edge sound design! This track features second-generation Indian Classical star, Ayaan Ali Khan on sarod, which starts with the opera singer Paulette Penzvalto. It is easy to tell that this a defining part of the book, where our hero – the pilgrim – passes through the Gates of Time. Indeed, time is an important topic; next out is “River of Time”, a collaboration with Pierre Edel and legendary Russian rocker Alex Liapin, which is about “a mystical river that divides the worlds and brings the current of time.” Even without reading the book, you can sense the flowing of time and how it has the power to change everything.
The ending of the album is nothing short of masterful. “Room of Darshan” is a short but victorious piece. The word Darshan in Sanskrit means ‘being able to see truly, through the inner eye of wisdom’. It also means to be seen from above. “Room of Darshan” is an ultra-light piece with a magnificent guitar. “Mantra of ParaDesha” rounds off the album with a stunning version of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. It plays almost as an EP within the album. I could have it on replay all day; it is powerful, meditative and inspired. Ananta’s modern soundscape and the Maha Mantra is a match made in heaven.
In conclusion: “Mirror of Desire” by Ananta Govinda is a monumental New Age music release! It seems to contain a whole cosmology – and there is so much to experience – especially since “Mirror of Desire” also is an upcoming trilogy of novels. It is an album I find myself wanting to listen to again and again – and I almost can’t believe that it is less than 40 minutes long. It is that rich. Don’t worry if you are not that into fantasy literature. “Mirror of Desire” stands perfectly well on its own feet as a high-quality music album, and you don’t have to read the book to enjoy its wonderful and relaxing qualities.
Believe me, there’s magic in “Mirror of Desire. That’s all I want to be, that’s all I want to see”.
Score: 96/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music, visit anantagovinda.com.
List of collaborating artists
Will Calhoun (Living Color) on drums and percussion;
Lili Haydn (Grammy Winner) on violin and vocals;
Scott Page (Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Toto) on sax;
Ayaan Ali Khan on sarod;
John Wubbenhorst on flute;
Ronny Ray on ud and throat singing;
Alex Liapin (Paul McCartney, DDT, Aquarium) on guitars;
Ben Leinbach (Grammy Nominated, Jai Uttal, Joan Boez) on percussion;
Nahuel Bronzini (Grammy Winner, Fantastic Negrito), strings arrangements;
Bret Levick, additional mixing;
Thomas Juth, additional mixing (A-ha, Elton John, Cat Stevens);
Nicolas Essig, mastering (Coldplay, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Daft Punk);