Traveller – Anoushka Shankar’s debut album on Deutsche Grammophon – she finds her way into the nuances of modern flamenco through the vivid lens of Hindustani technique. In essence, Traveller charts the spiritual link across time and space of two highly evolved forms of musical expression, from their ancient gestation to their modern zenith. This is an album of innovation and rebirth – a perfect culmination of old and new. How appropriate then that the driving force behind this album was the birth of Anoushka’s first child.
“It was a love of the music that inspired me to make this flamenco album and bring together these two traditions”, says Anoushka Shankar. “I’ve always loved flamenco and had a fascination for it. There’s always been that pull towards something I find very similar in flamenco to what I cherish in Indian classical music: a kind of uninhibited musicality in expression, whether it’s a solo voice, a sitar or a guitar. Of course there were common roots and technical similarities to explore, and when you start to play with those, you can really delve down in very delicious ways. However the desire came from simply being an admirer of the music, and wanting to learn about it through making music.”
Flamenco has its roots in India. Many of the great modern exponents of this fiery tradition are keen to emphasize and rediscover that connection. Dancers from Joaquín Cortés to Sandra La Espuelita have, at the beginning of their shows, stated that cultural origin very clearly. Guitar masters Pepe Habichuela and Paco de Lucía, the latter notably in his work with John McLaughlin, have brought strong references to that cultural history into their compositions. The modern, popular Spanish band Ojos de Brujo and the lesser known Indialucía ebulliently celebrate flamenco’s Eastern heritage.