Water Lily Acoustics (WLA) is an American record label based in Santa Barbara, California. It primarily releases recordings of Indian classical music and cross-cultural collaborations between musicians from around the world. The label was founded by the producer Kavichandran Alexander, a Tamil originally from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
From its inception, WLA had laid great emphasis on the virtuosos of the Eastern world and in capturing their art in its purest form. The reason for this, stemmed from the dire fact that the great Eastern musicians had seldom been recorded properly, with care and attention placed on sound quality and thus, most recordings of the Eastern masters, unlike those of their counterparts in the West, were of mediocre quality at best. Water Lily Acoustics has become synonymous with pristine sound quality and its recordings are viewed as bearing a unique faithfulness to the original music source. WLA achieves this by utilizing proper microphone techniques, state-of-the-art recording equipment and scrupulously selecting the acoustically most suitable venues for recoding, those, which possess acoustics that enhance the music to be recorded.
WLA has also gained a reputation for its innovative pairings of musicians from diverse cultures, who normally would never perform together. Water Lily Acoustics was the very first to pair and record Indian musicians, of both the Karnatic and Hindustani schools, with their Persian, Arab and Chinese counterparts, a trend copied by others much later.
Kavichandran Alexander is well known in the audiophile community for his purist approach to recording and his love for analog electronics and tape machines. He records almost exclusively using the Blumlein binaural or Stereosonic method invented by Alan Blumlein, which involves the usage of two bidirectional microphones in a 'coincident', 'crossed pair' configuration. It is believed that this approach "yields the most natural musical balance and the proper ratio of direct-to-reflected sound".
The 1993 album A Meeting by the River (featuring Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt) won a Grammy Award.
Water Lily Acoustics, has to date recorder the following Indian master musicians: Padmavibushan Ustad Dr. Ali Akbar Khan, Padmabushan Professor V.G. Jog, Padmavibushan Pandit Jesraj, Padmabushan Dr. N. Ramani, Ustad Imrat Khan, Ustad Zia Fariddudin Dagar, Padmashri Dr. L Subramaniam, Padmashri V. M. Bhatt, Padmashri Kadri Gopalnath, Padmashri Ustad Rashid Khan, Chitravina N. Ravikiran, Swapan Chaudhuri, Guruvayur Dorai and T. H. Subashchandran. Of the younger generation of luminaries, the following musicians have been recorded as well: Dr. V. Balaji, Pandit Ronu Majumdar, Sukhvinder Singh Namdari, Abhijit Banerjee, Druba Ghosh, J.G.R. Krishnan, Thiagarajan Ramani, Shweta Jhaveri, Viji Krishnan and Sangeetha Shankar.
South American, Asian and African master musicians record by Water Lily Acoustics are as follows: Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, Sharafat Ali Khan, Shafkat Ali Khan (Pakistan), Dom Um Romão (Brazil), Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Jose Neto (Brazil), Alex Blake (Panama), Jie Bing Chen, Wu Man (China), Saug-Won Park (South Korea), Drepung Loseling Monks (Tibet), Hamza el Din (Sudan), Papa Bunko Susso (Gambia), Simon Shaheen (Palestine), Kim Sinh (Vietnam), Abdellattif Belharrat (Morocco), Mevelavi Ensemble (Turkey), Usted Hossein Alizadeh, Arshad Tahmasebi, Madjid Khalaj, Haj Ghorban Soleimani (Iran) and Jorge Strunz (Costa Rica).
Symphony orchestras recorded by Water Lily Acoustics to date: The Philadelphia Orchestra (Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch), The Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Maestro Yuri Temirkanov), The Saint Petersburg Symphony Orchestra (Maestro Alexander Dmitriev) and The Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra (Maestro Zoltan Kocsis).
Prominent North American and European musicians recorder by Water Lily Acoustics to date: Ruggiero Ricci (US), Brooks Smith (US), Grant Gershon (US), Garry Woodward (US), Roger Lebow (US), Emma Lou Dimer (US), Jacky Terrasson (France), Chico Freeman (US), Ry Cooder (US), Taj Mahal (US), Bela Fleck (US), Jerry Douglas (US), Edger Meyer (US), Jon Hassell (US), David Hidalgo (US), Larry Coryell (US), James Newton (US), Martin Simpson (UK) and Teddy Tierup (Denmark).
- Dead Man Walking. (Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon).
- Two Days in the Valley. (Danny Aiello, Charlize Theron).
- Primary Colors. (John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton).
- Angel Eyes. (Jennifer Lopez, James Caviezel).
- One Hour Photo. (Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen).
- Meet the Fockers. (Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand)
- Jon Bon Jovi documentary The Circle.
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