Sukha
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Sukha

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE | AFM

Los Angeles, CA | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2011
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"Music and Media Focus"

The devotional chanting of mantras is a spiritual practice that has been around for thousands of years. For those who may not be familiar, a mantra is defined as: “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation, a Vedic hymn, a statement or slogan repeated frequently.” Throughout the centuries, the form of mantra chanting has probably changed very little, that is until more recently, where contemporary spiritual seekers are finding new and innovative ways to present this ancient practice. Among these sonic explorers is a group called Sukha who takes a bold direction in their blend of sacred singing with rock music.



The core of the group is a husband and wife team, Sukhmani (Nicole) and Sukhman (Steven),D81_2154-Edit-2-copy-210x300 although they often feature additional musicians in their live performances, as well on this recording, of which there are quite a few. According to their bio, the couple met in Boston in the late 1990’s and have been writing and playing music ever since. Once they discovered the beauty of Kundalini Yoga in 2009, they knew they wanted to help inspire others through Kundalini Yoga music, mantra and sound. Sukhmani is also an active Kundalini Yoga teacher in Southern California and Sukhman is an avid yogi. Once they started practicing Kundalini Yoga, which included lots of rhythm and chanting…they decided to start writing music for mantras and English music for yoga inspiration. They wanted to infuse their style of writing and rock with mantra. They do many “Rock Your Mantra” workshops where people can discover/connect to mantra in a fun and experiential way. Sukha provides their music throughout Southern California currently to the tune of almost 300 classes/workshops/concerts per year.



Although the band is relatively recent, Sukhmani and Sukhman both have a long history in music. Sukhmani began singing at the age of 3 and was always playing records and singing while on her rocking horse. Her first record, “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Hailey and the Comets, with the b-side of “Shake Rattle and Roll” was purchased for her by her mother who was a singer. Her father, a huge fan of jazz and Frank Sinatra, was constantly playing it in the house. Sukhman started playing and writing music at about the age of 8. Listening to Jimi Hendrix, Coltrane, Zappa, Leon Redbone, and Charlie Parker in his younger years, Sukhman played piano and keyboards before switching to guitar as a teenager. Sukhman was a sought after guitarist by Berklee College of Music students, even though he was accepted, he decided not to attend. However, he met Sukhmani there and they were in a band together. - Michael Diamond


"One World Music"

"I adore originality and with Sukha (the Band) we have that in all its glory, the band have lovingly created an album of a rocking spiritual intent and it works superbly, adding yet another layer to this quite creative 21st century of new musical styles...

Sukha have brought into manifestation an album with a difference, the have used mantra, added different styles and genres, and used an overall folk rock ethic, to add such a depth of originality to the album and its entire concept. Rise is a refreshing new project to bring the essence and energy of spiritual music, into the more mainstream pathways of our reality. Their performance has been outstanding and their intent truthful and stylish, I would recommend this to anyone who is seeking something different to enjoy in music, to those who wish to add a little eastern flavour to their rock collection" - One World Music, UK

I urge you to make this part of your collection as soon as possible, embrace this release and enjoy its energies, you will not be disappointed. - One World Music


"LA Yoga Magazine"

Sukha, an accessible blend of mantra rock inspired by the root chakra.

Sukha is comprised of husband and wife team Sukhmani (Nicole) on vocals and Sukhman (Steven) on acoustic guitar. Created in 2011, Sukha shares their unique blend of Kundalini mantra rock.

The name Sukha is derived from the Sanskrit word for happiness, bliss, and ease. The album, Rise, is true to form, with a light-hearted spirit that ignites joy. Inspired by the grounding energy of the root chakra, Sukha transforms traditional mantras “Ong Namo,” “Wah Yantee,” “Rise (Ra Ma),” “Dharti Hai,” “Gobinday Mukhanday,” “Humee Hum,” “Prana Apana,” and “Mul Mantra” into a devotional fusion of past and present.
Together, Sukha emanates powerful energy, asking us to gather around the sacred fire of transcendence.



Sukhmani’s voice is accessible and comforting while Sukhman’s guitar vibes with warbly riffs providing a familiar and accessible backdrop to the devotion. Additional Sukha musicians include Kenneth Oberholtzer on violin, Eliza Shah on harp and background vocals, Tripp Dudley on percussion, Jared May on bass, John Stolzman on piano, Michael Vanier and Matthew Charles Heulitt on electric guitars, Amar Khalas on flute, and Sahib-Amar Khalsa on viola, as well as multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and co-producer Ram Dass Khalsa. Together, Sukha emanates powerful energy, asking us to gather around the sacred fire of transcendence.

Chanting mantras ignites the spiritual transformation of our spirit and practitioners believe that we are drawn to the mantras we most need for purification. The sounds of the mantras themselves are believed to relax and rejuvenate the physical body while altering our consciousness. This is certainly the case when listening to Rise. - LA Yoga Magazine


"Yoga Chicago"

Sukha’s Kundalini mantra rock, Rise, is the first release for this Los Angeles couple. Sukhmani on vocals and Sukhman on acoustic guitar make some laid-back California mantra rock. Opening with a sound that could be the sound of a highway hum or a roar heard in a cave, “Ong Namoh” kicks in with a lazy kit drum, beautiful mantra, and warbling slide guitar. Could it be the yogic version of the dreamy 90s pop of Mazzy Star? The eight tracks are groovy and moving, and I can’t stop humming “Dharti Hai.” The “Guru Ram Dass” lyric is easy to follow, bright, and uplifting, with an interesting bridge. Their inspiration for this collection is the root chakra, the realm of Ganesha. Listening to this gentle, joyful, rockin’ release is a transcendent experience. - Yoga Chicago Magazine


"Whole Life Times"

The Los Angeles band Sukha is comprised of a married duo of musically inclined yogis, but their new album, Rise, doesn’t sound like anything you’re likely to hear emanating from your local Bikram studio. And that’s not a dig at either Sukha or what most people think of as yoga music.

Surprisingly, Rise is distinctly upbeat. It’s a particular style of “kundalini mantra rock” that’s perfect background music for a frenetic Monday morning or a Sunday drive on PCH.

Rise is the second album by Sukha (the Sanskrit word for bliss), formed by Sukhmani Kaur and Sukhman Singh five years ago here in L.A. The lush production and layered instruments of the eight tracks may not mesh perfectly with your morning sun salutation—except for the final song, “Mul Mantra”—but it’s a perfect fit for anything you do after that. Impressive guitar work by Singh elevates songs like “Humee Hum” and “Wah Yantee,” while Kaur’s vocals shine on “Gobinday Mukhanday.” Violin and percussion work, from Kenneth Oberholtzer and Tripp Dudley, respectively, are top-notch, while Eliza Shah’s vocals add to the rousing sounds.

Appropriately titled, Rise never flags in its efforts to get the listener up and moving, appreciative and ready for the day or night ahead. With a stirring crescendo, the title track—like much of the album—will get you motivated in a way a latté never could. (Spirit Voyage Music) - Whole Life Times


"Zone Music Reporter"

Unexpected !

Over the past several years I have learned a lot about mantra-based music. Mantras can be many things, including prayers, invocations, stimuli and at times, eidetic aids. Rise is a collection of 8 mantras sung and performed in a most remarkable way. The music is offered by the band Sukha which is made up of Sukhmani and Sukhaman who expound on the virtues of Kundalini Yoga, but they use an abundance of contemporary elements in their songs. Sukha is the Sanskrit word for bliss and after many listenings, I can attest that this band lives up to its name.

The opening song is called Ong Namo. The Ong Namo mantra is a prayer of preparation. Chanting the words opens your heart, aligning it with the Infinite and preparing to quiet your mind. Sukha performs it as a blues tune, wholly unexpected. The moderate chant falls into play soon thereafter and the rhythm is mesmerizing. I am surprised and delighted as I have heard the tune a hundred times, but never like this. The guitar riffs are dynamic and striking.

Rise, the title song comes on like a ballad. Slow, gentle music and a quiet vocal commences the tune, but as the song progresses the affirmation takes on a more solid shape, giving the prayer substance. The lyrics goes something like:

"What you vibrate you will become, close your eyes and meditate on the One."

Dharti Hai is one of the more fascinating mantras. Dharti Hai means being in the present. With the external stimuli we have to put up with in our daily lives, this particular mantra is important to reconnect with the self and the world within. It is existing in the moment. The tune has a haunting refrain and I liked it for that, as that bluesy presence appears once again. The Earth Is!

I have heard Humee Hum a number of times, but not like this. The music reminded me of something Suzanne Vega would offer. It is poignant, sincere and full of angst. Even the electric guitar is unexpectedly forceful, with a bit of reverb thrown in for good measure. I do not have the wherewithal to even attempt to explain the mantra, but suffice to say that we as mortals are searching for the point of stillness or shuniya. Humee Hum is the gateway.

The Mul Mantra begins with an exquisite guitar lead that is spatial, complex and pleasurable. Sukhmani sings the lyrics in an echoing voice, sounding distant, but contemporaneous. It is almost twelve minutes of bliss. The music meanders as a layered male voice (Yogi Bhajan) builds the chant. The Mul Mantra is the fundamental prayer from which all else is constructed.

All the tracks feature music created by a group of more than a dozen talented musicians. If you weren't paying specific attention to the lyrics, you might imagine that you were listening to a great band playing alternative music. Sukha is not afraid to take on melodic challenges to justify their position. However, for me, knowing that there is solid and deep relation to Yogic wisdom makes the music that much more profound. Faith is a strong influence to any music. I am not a follower, but I was moved on many levels by the purity, the innate beauty, and the devotion of the music. Their novel approach encourages me to learn more. Highly recommended.

Rating: Very Good Very Good


- reviewed by RJ Lanan on 11/29/2016 - ZMR


"NeuFuture Magazine"

What Sukha does on their current album Rise is create a unique style of music that ties together folk-rock, rock, and alternative styles together with a singer-songwriter feel. There is a powerful one-two punch that begins the album; Ong Namo has vocals contributing to the overall melodies achieved by the band, while there is an approach taken during Wah Yantee that seamlessly links together Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Cole with Neil Young and Dave Matthews.

Rise (Ra Ma) showcases Sukha’s desire to continually innovate with their music. Sizzling guitar work punctuates this track, creating a secondary narrative element that pushes the vocals to an entirely higher plateau. The martial drums that play at the bottom of Gobinday Mukhanday do more than keep time. The images which they elicit during this song stands in bold opposition to the vocals and bass heard here. By having such a nuanced and deep sound present in each of the tracks on Rise, Suka ensure that one continually pops in the album to understand every note, arrangement, and song. Humee Hum pulls from the blues and country & western traditions; where many artists are more than happy to go into autopilot on the later reaches of their album, Sukha continues to experiment and innovate until the final statements on Rise.

Mul Mantra is the final song on Rise, creating a darker and more introspective sound for Sukha. The track ties up the different styles and approaches that listeners have experienced so fall on Rise while showcasing a potential venue for where the band may go on follow-ups to the title. The spoken vocals tat play behind the instrumentation are haunting, sticking with listeners long after Rise has ceased playing.

Top Tracks: Rise (Ra Ma), Gobinday Mukhanday

Rating: 8.0/10 - NeuFuture


Discography

Sukha (Little Things) 2011
Sukha (Rise) 2016
Sukha (Cusp) not yet released 2017

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Sukha is Southern California based husband/wife team Sukhmani and Sukhman.   Sukha exists to help people fall in love with the power and magic of mantra.  They play their own blend of unique and modern "rock inspired" mantra music for classes, events and festivals and tour extensively usually with an eclectic mix of world-class musicians and instruments.  Sukha is often a part of many of Sukhmani's Kundalini Yoga classes.  They usually include relaxing gong, bowl and didgeridoo sound healing as an added  relaxation treat.  Their critically acclaimed mantra album "Rise" was released in March 2016 and the band is almost finished with the follow-up, "Cusp".    They were on the 2016 Grammy® Ballot for Best New Age Album of The Year.  Sukha is known for their high-vibration delivery to allow people to experience singing, sound, and mantra meditation in an accessible format for all.

Band Members