Aatma is the re-imagining of my recent journey into Mumbai through sound, place, and moment with a Nagra SD recorder. The work was composed immediately upon my return while these things were, in a very real sense, still resonating in my mind. Part 1 is the arrival. Echoes of the shanka can be heard from a distant past across the Arabian Sea, as waves wash debris ashore and push you deep into the tumult of the city. Here you may experience the current of life and ride old trains into spectral shadows of obscure & eccentric Bollywood and devotional vinyl records from a local music boutique. Part 2 is a precarious walk across the narrow causeway leading to Haji Ali Dargah, a 600-year-old mosque only accessible at low tide. It is difficult to reach the mosque without being taken aback by the disparate forms of life unfolding on the way in, both in the sky and on foot as can be heard here. Part 3, the final section, is a departure from the hustle of the city altogether. This section delves into the droning, colorful, and percussive instruments with their richly complex and evolving timbres. It culminates in a return to daily shanty life on the beach accompanied by transistor radios blasting modern bollywood music. Aatma is a tribute to Mumbai’s wonderful people and culture, and in the hope of representing different and altered states of listening, living, and celebrating. I hope you find this journey as inspiring as it was for me. – Mike Vernusky.
Music and field recordings by Mike Vernusky. Mastering and additional tempura by Cory Allen. Design by Noopur Choksi. Photography by James David Smith. Kind logistical support by Bhanuj Kappal, Damian O’Riain & Jay Kumar Singh. Special thanks to Manuella Blackburn and illapfest UK. Bollywood vinyl courtesy of Pilak Bhatt of MusicCircle.