I remember my first encounter with a leopard. I was on safari with a friend at Nagarhole forest in South India. We were just completing the safari, disappointed at not having seen much, when suddenly we heard an explosive sound from only feet away: the alarm call of the barking deer. We stopped on the dirt road. Shortly afterwards we heard the call of a Sambhar, then a Cheetal (Spotted Deer) call, ever closer to us. The deer make these sounds when they are panicked by a predator – a tiger or a leopard. Could it be that one was heading in our direction? The calls were getting more and more frantic. We couldn't have asked for a more thrilling build-up: it was almost like it was orchestrated.
If I had to mention a single inspiration behind my latest album Hunted, it would be the alarm call of the Barking Deer. I was at Sitabani Wildlife Reserve near Corbett National Park when I was first completely mesmerised by this sound. At an auditory level, the first thing that strikes you is the loudness and power of the bark. Its sheer energy creates an instant impact on you. Our minds are accustomed to hearing multiple barks, as it is with dogs, so when we hear just this single outburst followed by silence, we snap to attention. The silence is just as powerful as the bark that precedes it. At an emotional level, the sound affects you in many ways. You realise it is a matter of life and de
On two tracks on my new album “Hunted” I tried an experiment - composing music right in the middle of a forest. A forest is a place of excitement, suspense and drama. I thought that there would be no better way to capture these emotions than to compose music as I experienced them. The perfect location to record this experience: a beautiful, isolated lodge at Sitabani Wildlife Reserve, located next to Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. I lived there for three weeks recording and composing. Sitting alone on the terrace at the lodge, experiencing the forest in the middle of the night, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. For this experiment to work, it was critical that I h
Sitting on the terrace at the Sitabani Wildlife Reserve late at night, often all I would hear was the sound of crickets and a human-like whistling - the call of the Indian Cuckoo. When I heard this call at night, coming out of the darkness, it felt like these were spirits trying to communicate with me. Some calls would be in the distance, some near, some loud and some a whisper in my ear. It was a surreal experience - but also comforting in some way. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, a tribe in the Kangra Valley of India interpret the cuckoo’s call as the soul of the dead shepherd uttering “Where is my sheep?” You can hear this beautiful call on the track Spirits on the album “Hunted.”
Sounds from a Himalayan Forest is a collection of ambient sounds I recorded at Sitabani Wildlife Reserve in April 2017. I wanted everyone to experience the breathtaking range of natural sounds I heard, immersed in the forest. Impersonator is of particular interest on this album. On this track you hear the alarm call of the Barking Deer being mimicked repeatedly by a bird (possibly a Jungle Fowl - maybe the birders out there can help out)! This call-and-response exchange went on for almost twenty minutes, with the bird even matching the changes in pitch in the deer call. Most amazing. Around Five Thirty features very unique, strange and even humorous vocalisations by peacocks. On Barks and Bi
There are a few places in the world that affect you so deeply that they change your perspective on life. For me, Sitabani Wildlife Reserve was one such. It not only took my respect, appreciation and love for nature to a completely new level, but also gave me a better understanding of myself and my priorities. Sitabani is located in the Sitabani forest near Corbett National Park, and was founded by my friend Abhishek Ray, who besides being an eminent music composer in the Indian film industry, is a devoted wildlife lover and conservationist. He is also a highly accomplished naturalist, having been part of numerous government wildlife censuses, and it was during one of these censuses that he s