Right. So here is the first time we have reviewed a fusion recording by an Indian artist. Strange? You bet. I myself was surprised that while I have reviewed fusion music with a proper Indian bent (Jonas Hellborg), all the Indian artists we had reviewed were in fact, in Indian rock! Anyway, I think this might just turn out to be something great, owing to the- shall we say serendipitous- circumstances through which I found out about this music. A/J, the brainchild behind this project, is based in the fair city of Bangalore. He juggles his fast paced lifestyle as a marketing executive and as a musician. An inspiring thing, no doubt, and something I hope I can follow myself someday.
So, what he have here is a full on fusion record, that doesn’t really seem to lean on any particular genre, while drawing equally (and equally effectively) from a whole host of genres. So I’ve heard in the course of this recording, Indian beats (“Feelin’ Blue), rock beats, blues-rock (“Derailed”), jazz guitar flourishes (“So far so good”)….the works. That’s a fairly wide range of genres to draw from – and even notwithstanding the individual merits of the songs- I can tell you that A/J straddles multiple genres effortlessly. Never once do the transgressions sound contrived.
A/J straddles multiple genres effortlessly. Never once do the transgressions sound contrived.
Right, on to the individual songs, then. The first song “Feelin’ Blue” leaves quite a strong impression to begin with, what with spacey guitar and a really strong tabla/bass rhythm that actually defines the song. It has a world/lounge music like feel to it, which is something that is repeatedly felt in certain tracks through the album. No bad thing, mind you.
I’d do away with the sound effects at the beginning of “The Journey Begins”, which are a bit too obviously sampled keyboard patches. They slightly mar what is otherwise essentially a soaring guitar anthem. Cue major high-pitched harmonics, which are quite unlike most of the fat-man-stepping-on-screeching-cat notes as is the wont of most Indian guitar players. Here they are crystal clear. Piercing. Excellent. This bloke knows how to play. It’s very heartening to see a Jeff Beck-like emphasis on tone and dynamics over wank-assery.
“Jaisalmer” is certainly one of the best songs on this album. It’s exotic minor/phrygian sounding, sexy and with a big rock tone to top it off. Yet more wonderfulness, I see. The screamery is epic.
The mixing of the album is very open and allows space for other instruments, especially drums. I’ve always been a great fan of an open and spacious sound to albums, which allows the sounds to breathe. Alas, at places I feel the bass-player’s curse haunting me, like the slightly low mixing on “So far so good”. So the great bass playing by A/J is a vague-ish pulse in the background. It’s still a good song though, not in the least because of the Jazzy influences on the guitar playing.
Faults, you ask? Well, I can only think of one fault. I do miss the presence of musical leitmotifs, or repetitive hooks. I’d like a bit more of those on the next album (which after such a debut is inevitable). Other than that, I have no real criticisms. This sounds right.
See more about A/J at this website HERE.
For more FUSION reviews, go HERE.
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