Album Review: Niraj Chag – Mud Doll

Award-winning producer Niraj Chag’s new album released on 22 June 2015, and I’ve been hooked on it since I first heard the track “Rang Diya”.

Niraj Chag is a London-based music artist and composer. His style entwines classical Indian influence with contemporary notes to reveal a unique sound. His work ranges from albums, to film scores, soundtracks, theatre and live performances. For a flavour of some of Niraj’s musical endeavours take a look BBC programmes such as “World’s Busiest Railways”, nature and wildlife series “Rise of the Continents”, and theatre scores for plays like “Dara” as some of his recent pieces.

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“Mud Doll” is the newest album from Niraj’s collection such as “Along the Dusty Road”, “Rafta Rafta” and “The Lost Souls”

What is Mud Doll about you may wonder?
“Close your eyes and imagine your own body. Now imagine that body is empty, like a shell. Now imagine filling up that body with everything that is ‘you’. What does your essence look like? What is it made of?”
“Mud Doll” is about the human experience. It starts with birth and ends with death, and the beyond.

The title track from “Mud Doll” is a song about the transcendence and fragility of life. Featuring the sublime vocals of Priti Menon and Melissa Baten and lyrics by Japjit Kaur, the track has a cinematic quality with Rajasthani folk and African influences.

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The African influence is definitely something that stands out to me on the album against the traditional folkiness of Indian sounds; “Mud Doll” being one of my favourite tracks because of this reason. The passing of my grandma has shaped how I see things and view life. When I hear this song, I can almost feel her energy around me. I love how it reflects the balance of how many Asian families, like my own are of Indian origin from East-Africa. Furthermore the lyrics perfectly resonate how I feel about our existence as living creatures of the universe:

I am not  a traveller, neither a form of desire or attachment
I am not a home made of bricks
A Temple, A Mosque
I am no palace
Neither prayer, victory or loss
Or sacrifice
I am a mud doll assembled of the elements
I am stardust, nature’s game
In me is the universe, I am from the universe
– Lyrics by Japjit Kaur

Another of my favourites from the album is “Chamba”. I had the absolute honour to work on BBC India Season with Radio 2 and Asian Network in September, where Niraj and vocalist Japjit Kaur performed Chamba LIVE.

Father! Your love always held me, but in an instant I am unknown to you
Don’t send me too far, my heart will not bear this separation

Ours is a sparrow’s nest O friend.
At the behest of my mother, I fly away joined with my husband to be

– Chamba

I think this song is a beautiful metaphor of a woman; the sparrow fleeing the nest of her parents and joining her husband in their new married life together.

“Mud Doll” is a unique musical experience that is in touch with the emotional and intelligent mood that music evokes.

Log on to www.muddoll.com to find out what Mud Doll you are…