Album: Bada Boom
Artist: Ranjit Barot
To call Ranjit Barot's “Bada Boom”, jazz-indian classical concotion a fusion album would do it great injustice. Instead, it is a heady mix of sounds that seamlessly transcend cultural labels.
From the get go, the first track Singularity launches into a Veena-driven assault alongside master jazz instrumentalist John McLaughlin. It is a precursor for the non-stop energy that is come to your way the rest of the album. Considering Barot's background doing film score, the tracks sometimes have a cinematic feel with their grandeur and rich sound.
He experiments with drum signatures throughout the album, preferring the non-traditional throughout. In a tribute to the late Ustad Allah Rakha Khan, Barot employs the former's sons Zakir Husain and Taufique Qureshi to great effect on the track Supernova. The drum and tabla dialogue between Barot and maestro Zakir Hussain is mesmerising and a fitting tribute to the tabla great.
Dark Matter, for instance, has the musical sensibilities of both New York and New Delhi in its sound. In that way, Barot marries two disparate styles with the sophistication of someone who has a deep understanding of both. Combining the improvisational elements of jazz and the structure of indian raagas, he has married two musical styles, without compromising on the nuances of each.
Final track, Origin, with its pulsating refrain of ‘Maula re maula' maintains its international appeal with a Bollywood pop feel. As the star track of the album, it made the wait worth it. It makes you want to see it performed live.
Whatever your musical inclination, the album is best heard with headphones to appreciate the textures of sound fully. For an album that traces the journey of time, its track titles reference the Big Bang and the creation of the universe. But whether the references to physics terms elude you or not, Bada Boom is an exceptional piece of work. And clearly, this is music beyond its years. While not groundbreaking, what Barot has created is progressive and perhaps the sound of modern Indian music. His drumming prowess shines thoughout, whether he is accompanying a carnatic melody or a cornet. The music on “Bada Boom” manages to remain accessible without alienating music lovers.
Buy? To sample music without borders
ANJALI RAGURAMAN, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University.