Ashna (or 'friend' in both Dari and Punjabi), is a collective of musicians featuring Absolute Focus (Kamaljeet Ahluwalia on santoor, and Jas Ahluwalia on tabla), Qais Essar on rabab and Dr. Neelamjit Dhillon on tabla/bansuri.
The project is a sonic collaboration across different backgrounds to express unity. Weaving Eastern melody and Western harmony, an auditory tale emerges of diversity and inclusion. Each musician brings their own unique style to crafting original compositions that in turn serve as vehicles for inspired improvisation. Filled with dignity and humor, Ashna’s music spans from the sacred to the cerebral.
'Ghoulistan' is grounded in Raag Malkauns, a night raag in the North Indian classical music tradition. "I had always heard stories of the powers raags possess," says Qais Essar. "Raag Malkauns was always rumored to have the power to conjur djnn and spirits. In that spirit I wanted to create a short, yet impactful piece of music that is evocative of the mystique that the raag is cloaked in."
"We had only sat down together once one night in Oct 2019 and had worked out a rough sketch of what the piece could resemble based off a seed I had. 'Ghoulistan' translates to 'land of ghouls', a play on 'Gulistan' or 'land of flowers'."
released August 20, 2020
Qais Essar: rabab, modular synth
Dr. Neelamjit Dhillon: bansuri, shehnai
Kamaljeet Ahluwalia: santoor
Jas Ahluwalia: tabla