Sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar sounds a searing cry against injustice in new Deutsche Grammophon album, Land of Gold

“She’s making her own unique mark on the world” – Harper’s Bazaar

Land of Gold, Anoushka Shankar’s fourth album for Deutsche Grammophon, is her heartfelt response to the trauma and injustice being experienced by refugees and victims of war. Offering an uplifting message of hope for dark times, its music was inspired by recent news images of people fleeing civil war, oppression, poverty and unbearable hardship. The album contemplates the common thread of humanity and its power to reconnect people divided by hatred and fear. “The seeds of Land of Gold originated in the context of the humanitarian plight of refugees,” Anoushka recalls. “It coincided with the time when I had recently given birth to my second child. I was deeply troubled by the intense contrast between my ability to provide for my baby, and others who desperately wanted to provide the same security for their children but were unable to do so.”

Land of Gold is set for international release on 1 April 2016. Anoushka Shankar will perform pieces from the album on tour throughout the year, including festival dates in the summer in Europe and concerts in North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, India and the United Arab Emirates.

Mankind’s eternal quest for a place of safety fuelled Anoushka’s creativity and supplied her album’s narrative structure. “Everyone is, in some way or another, searching for their own ‘Land of Gold’: a journey to a place of security, connectedness and tranquillity, which they can call home,” reflects the five-times Grammy nominee. “This journey also represents the interior quest that we all take to find a sense of inner peace, truth and acceptance – a universal desire that unites humanity.” Land of Gold explores themes of disconnection and vulnerability. It also trains the light of hope on the soul’s darkest shadows.

Strong emotions flow throughout Land of Gold, expressed on sitar by Anoushka Shankar and reinforced in collaboration with an ensemble of gifted instrumentalists and guest artists. The music’s dynamic energy was further enhanced by the input of Joe Wright, Anoushka’s husband and director of movies such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Anna Karenina, who worked with his wife on the album’s production, and by the cinematic soundscapes and textures of electronic producer Matt Robertson, Björk’s frequent collaborator. “My instrument,” comments Anoushka, “is the terrain in which I explore the gamut of emotional expression – evoking shades of aggression, anger and tenderness, while incorporating elements of classical minimalism, jazz, electronica and Indian classical styles.”

Anoushka Shankar is joined by Hang virtuoso and co-writer of many of the album’s ten pieces Manu Delago, and by Sanjeev Shankar, a master of the haunting Indian reed instrument, the shehnai, who studied with Anoushka’s father Ravi Shankar. Land of Gold also includes guest appearances by rapper and refugee advocate M.I.A., singer/songwriter Alev Lenz, jazz double-bassist Larry Grenadier, dancer Akram Khan, cellist Caroline Dale, and actress and political activist Vanessa Redgrave, who reads a viscerally expressive poem by Pavana Reddy on “Remain the Sea”. All-girl children’s choir Girls for Equality makes its debut on the album’s closing song, “Reunion”.