Ra: 'Duality' June 21st

Ra is back with their sophomore album titled Duality. The album comes out on June 21st.

Ultimate Guitar

Like the Egyptian sun god Ra which gives the band its name, music is a source of life for singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Sahaj, a way to express his primal fears and desires, the fruits of a spiritual journey that began in India 14 years ago.

And while Ra's second Republic/Universal album, Duality, explores that dark side in songs like the pulsating first single, Fallen Angels, with its paranoia-inflected imagery reminiscent of Wim Wenders' Wings Of Desire, and the aching despair of I Lost Everything, the ultimate message is one of redemption and transcendence, as in the adrenaline sexual rush of Got Me Going and the pure joy expressed in the faithful cover of the Police's Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.

What Ra has always stood for is hope, says Sahaj, the son of a Puerto Rican mother and Russian father, who took his current name after a 1992 pilgrimage to India, where he studied Eastern philosophy in an ashram.

That faith has been tested in the three years since the band's debut, One, which sold more than 20k as an indie release before getting picked up by Republic/Universal and released as From One. It went on to sales of more than 200k on the strength of the Top 10 Active Rock single, Do You Call My Name, thanks to massive airplay by Boston station WAAF and a breakneck touring schedule of more than 200 dates in less than a year.

Ra recorded, produced and mixed 70% of Duality in Sahaj's parents' Upstate NY home and his own Sun God Rock studios in East Rutherford NJ, four songs of which were collaborations with producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Seether, Shinedown, Saliva). I kicked my parents out and sent them on vacation for two months, he laughs. I set up the studio in the living room, with the gear in the basement.

The result is Duality, a powerful evocation of many influences, an album with the propulsive power of Metallica and the prog-rock complexity of Yes and Queen as well as current groups like System Of A Down, laced with the deceptively transparent melodies and world music textures of the Police and Peter Gabriel.

Divided into two parts, the first labeled Fear, the second Love, Duality's dialectic covers a wide range of emotions in its journey from despair to hope. The intensity of Take Me Away, interspersing howling guitars, tribal rhythms and Sting-like vocals, is juxtaposed with the reggae beat of I Lost Everything. The Middle Eastern flavor and U2 feel of The Only One segues into the harmonic arena-rock of Say You Will, while the wrenching distortion of Taken forms a counterpoint to the lush landscape of Swimming Upstream, which unflinchingly views an unrequited love with measured regret.

We're not necessarily about playing complex parts with weird time signatures, says Sahaj, who cites classical works like Beethoven's Ninth and Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite as inspirations. We tried to make things that were complicated sound simple. The new material is much harder to play, but it sounds easier.

Superman, a song he wrote the day he returned from India, is typical of the pull between faith and despair that runs through Sahaj's writing. On the one hand, it thanks God for this great opportunity/to share with you/exactly how I feel, only to add, I think that I should tell you I got the raw end of the deal.

I don't believe in religion, but I believe in religious-ness, says Sahaj, who adds that his mixed cultural background cancelled each other out. I've studied science a great deal and, in many ways, its explanation of the universe seems more miraculous and interesting than some bearded guy in the clouds pointing a finger. There are so many things in science that are divine to me.

While waiting for Duality to come out, Ra returned to the road to play several shows with guitarist Ben Carroll who made strong writing contributions to this record, NJ native bassist P.J. Farley, and Massachusetts drummer Andy Ryan. The audience's positive response inspired them to press onward. It was great to have people freaking out just as much over the new music as the old stuff, Ben says. It was a vindication of our fans' belief in this band. At the end of the day, that's who we write for the fans. And we're utterly committed to delivering the goods live. That's what separates us from many other bands.

It is that transcendence, that out-of-body experience, that direct connection with their fans' energy that drives the band to continue Ra's odyssey. Even if sometimes they're removed from the final destination. At a show I feel like the Wizard Of Oz, Sahaj says. The guy standing behind the curtain, moving the levers so everybody else can believe. I lose myself in the drama of the performance, in the idea of reenacting the records on-stage. I'm not as interested in connecting with the music as I am with the audience. I'm immersed in trying to pilot them through the experience. Every show always starts with everyone in the dark. It's our job to be their Sun.

Take notice people. With Duality Ra will see their dawn.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I really cant see where Idlepretension is coming from saying that Ra, Submersed and Alter Bridge are horrible. That is just a sign that A) you have horrible taste in music. B) You wouldnt know talent if it slapped you in the face and C) You are one of the people that really doesnt even deserve to own a guitar.
    They are horrible. Unforgivable. On the same list and Alter Bridge and Submersed and basically any band who classifies themselves and merely "hard rock" in the last 20 years.
    I've never heard their music so i won't judge, but it does sound interesting.
    nevr listened to them... but according to the top 2 ppl this band sucks. how come they hav a story on a shitty bands new album and dream theaters new album but they had nothing on Wednesday 13's album and A7X's album. gay.
    They oppened for shroom and MSI and Dope and had EVERYONE falling asleep. WORST BAND EVER!!!..
    I don't know what you guys are looking for in your music. I can count the number of really good CDs in the last 2-3 years on one hand, and Ra's "From One" is one of them. At a time when 9 out of 10 songs on the radio is either generic or just plain annoying, this band plays music that is interesting and original. Don't let the other people's comments discourage you if you haven't heard Ra before; you should give the band a listen. Maybe ya wouldn't like them, but I'd bet you'd instead become an instant fan.
    Seriously guys if you havent heard Ra you should. mikedoty said it best; Theyre original. Their lyrics are pretty deep and inventive for the most part. Seriously not many people can write a song that tells a story from 3 points of view as found on "Do You Call My Name" Where he talks about being the prisoner, the prison gaurd, and the narrator of the story. But really if you havent heard Ra then dont let other ppl make up ur mind 4 u. You can download sum of their songs on their website rafans.net I think...it might be rafans.com but in any case check them out
    i dont no waht those 2 up at the top are smokin but all i had to do was hear one of Ra's best songs - Do You Call My Name - and i loved them instantly but with waht mikedoty said bout them being original is right but also they are unique at the same time...their guitar style with Ra using a seven-string guitar which i thought was....special...but like waht most of Ra fans have said here u people taht havent heard them yet ought to listen to them before making assumptions and just going and automatically trusting those pot smokers up at the top...lol im jk srry no hard feelings but seriously u people should give them a try - the people that havent heard them.
    I don't really care for alter bridge (although not for guitar's sake, mark tremonti's fairly underrated) or submersed, but to call Ra crap... clearly you have something in your ears. Then again, to classify all bands that are "merely hard rock" as crap... sorry, I guess not all bands can try to pidgeonhole themselves into "we're emocore" "we're metalcore" "we're ponkmo" In general, From One was an excellent CD. I haven't had a chance to listen to Duality yet but all the reviews I've seen of it have been good.
    RA is pretty much one of my favorite bands, and I have a very broad taste in music, so it's beating out many bands. But RA's ability to intertwine the best of different sounds into something totally their own amazes me. Although Duality is slightly different from From One, if you liked the first, you'll probably appreciate the second. "The Only One" is probably my favorite track on Duality.
    The three who posted the stuff about "RA SUX GIMME EMO...GAGA"...should be shot. Repeatedly. In the leg. "From One" was/is one of my favorite CD's of all time, and "Duality" even sounding different than their first one beats out Avenged Sevenfold/Emorock anyday. And on a sidenote, people falling asleep at a concert that has Ra performing?..Remind me to come and slap everyone that was at that concert in their stupid faces. If you can't appreciate the deep lyrics and melodies that is Ra, and prefer random screaming about hating your parents instead, then you truly have no understanding of great music. To everyone else, go out and buy both Ra albums, you won't be disappointed.
    I actually went to London to buy From One, because it weren't released in Denmark. Great Album.