Video Premiere: “Fight or Flight” by Sandeep Das and Mike Block

For Silkroad artists Sandeep Das (tabla) and Mike Block (cello), the joy of cross-cultural collaboration is grounded in a celebration each other’s musical traditions. Bringing together their uncommon pairing of instruments, their curiosity and genuine admiration for one another is immediately palpable in the video for “Fight or Flight” as we catch a glimpse of them walking down the beach together.

“Fight or Flight” is one of the featured works from the tabla-cello duo’s forthcoming debut album, Where the Soul Never Dies. Blending Hindustani classical tala with American folk music influences and original composition, their journey of musical discovery seamlessly traverses a myriad of traditions and cultures to create something that is both respectful and innovative.

Sandeep Das and Mike Block--Photo by Luka Zvara

Sandeep Das and Mike Block–Photo by Luka Zvara

Here’s what Mike had to say about “Fight or Flight:”

I wrote “Fight or Flight” just days before Sandeep and I began the recording sessions. It features an extended middle section of Sandeep’s rhythmic vocalising, called ‘bols.’ Recording this composition while it was brand new enabled Sandeep and I to capture a unique energy, as we were still very much in the exploratory phase of our relationship with the music we were creating. On the take that we used for the album, Sandeep’s recitation of rhythmic syllables is followed by accelerating rhythms performed on the Tabla, which inspired me to join with an interactive percussive improvisation using non-pitched “chop” sounds on the cello. The contrast of this hyper-rhythmic moment with the soaring start of the melody inspired the title, which nods to the idea of having only a split second to decide one’s fate at a crucial moment of danger.

Where the Soul Never Dies is out June 11, 2021 on Bright Shiny Things, and you can pre-order the album here.

About Sandeep Das

Sandeep Das is one of the leading Tabla virtuosos in the world today. Having established himself as India’s top Tabla maestro, he is one of the few Indian classical musicians to actively explore new contexts for his instrument beyond the music of his home country. Since his debut concert with Ravi Shankar at the age of 17, Mr. Das has gone on to perform with iconic artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and Paquito D’Rivera at prestigious venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Royal Albert Hall. Performances for significant events such as the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics and the World Economic Forum, in addition to audiences such as the United Nations and the Queen of England, have established as a highly sought-after performer all over the globe. Mr. Das is also a prolific composer, and his compositions have been showcased all over the world–- his most recent piece, Vaishnavi, is currently on display alongside a statue of the Goddess Parvati at Freer|Sackler in Washington D.C. As an educator, he is the founder of Das Tabla School and is frequently equested as an artist in residence at institutions such as Harvard and the Julliard School of Music.

About Mike Block

Mike Block is a pioneering cello player, singer, composer, and educator, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the “ideal musician of the 21st-Century.” Mike is member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble (SRE), having joined in 2005 while a student at The Juilliard School. Touring extensively throughout the world with SRE, he has been featured as cello and vocal soloist, contributed arrangements and compositions, and earned a Grammy Award in 2017 for their album, Sing Me Home. As an innovator, Mike is among the first wave of cellists to adopt a strap in order to stand and move while playing. With The Block Strap, Mike was the first standing cellist to perform at Carnegie Hall. The NY Times characterized the performance as, “Breathless … Half dance, half dare.” As an educator, Mike is passionate about creativity and collaboration, and is the founding director of Silkroad’s Global Musician Workshop, and the Mike Block String Camp.


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