Sheila Chandra gave them voice and attained unparalleled acclaim for her work and consequent live
performances. But Chandra is restless by nature. Brian Eno once said that people always think
it’s courageous to do something new that was not foreseen or predicted, but in fact the
courage is in letting go of something old that is successful and has its own momentum. Chandra
had the momentum, but voice and throat ailments plunged her into another five year recording hiatus.
Returning in 2001, rather than pick up where she left off, she cleansed her palette with sandpaper
on “THIS SENTENCE IS TRUE” (The Previous Sentence Is False). Recorded with the Ganges
Orchestra, Steve Coe’s virtual ensemble, it’s an album of dark experimentation, amped
up record scratches, glottal croaks and industrial discord like that heard on Mien. Yet there’s
no hiding the beauty of Chandra’s voice, which emerges on This, one of the more accessible
tracks from the project, an oasis, albeit an oasis full of hidden danger beneath the surface.
And that’s where Sheila Chandra has always worked, beneath the surface, deeper than the
soothing tones of New Age divas, more emotionally resonant. Her radiant voice lures you in with
its sensuous, soothing tones and perfect pitch technical mastery, then unfolds a world of archetypal
connections and emotional nuance. Sheila Chandra creates a music that touches the spirit, that
speaks to a primal source within us.
John Diliberto is the producer and host of
Echoes, a nightly music soundscape heard on
more than 150public radio stations.