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Updated: February 11, 2014 18:23 IST
Beatstreet

Blues Conscience – Down and Dirty

ANURAG TAGAT
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Rs 150 (MP3)

Before there was electronic dance music ruling clubs, there was the original party music – blues. The grandfather of rock and roll and even metal to a certain extent, nothing trumps guitar licks and soaring solos set to sharp beats and soaring accompaniments such as the piano, trumpet or saxophone. But Chennai band Blues Conscience don’t stop at that with their debut album, Down and Dirty.

While most blues musicians are purists, this band wears their openness to experimenting on their sleeve, straight from the opening track ‘Like What Music You Got’, which features DJ Dean scratching things up on a turntable. Originally started in 2008, Blues Conscience takes to the blues with hints of funk, rock and fusion. That last tag becomes evident when you hear Hindustani classical vocalist Ujjayinee Roy harmonizing over a smooth, slow blues number ‘Closer’. For the listener, this kind of messing around with the blues is either sacrilegious (hardcore blues fans might be befuddled by the combinations the band pulls) or a welcome change to bring in listeners from other genres.

Maybe Blues Conscience want to escape becoming just another blues band, but Down and Dirty still leans more toward blues rock, their fusion trips notwithstanding.

Numbers such as ‘Blues Santa’ and ‘Tipalo’ are not extraordinary blues numbers and run the risk of being forgettable, like the Latin jazz-influenced ‘Dreamland’, where guitarists Aum Janakiram gets his Santana on. For a band with just one guitarist and a bassist-vocalist (Anek Ahuja), Blues Conscience sure know how to sound loud. While they might get away with being uproarious (especially with songs like ‘Kamasutra’ and ‘Five Naked Virgins’ ) on some nights, the song that really saves them is ‘No Life Without The Blues’. That’s where the band is really experimental – recording a four-minute version, and then following it up with an eight-minute crafted jam version that is the definition of soulful music. Although it would have been preferable to listen to the jam version much later on in the tracklist, Blues Conscience want you to hear an alternate take as soon as you’re done with the first one.

While not a note seems to sound unnecessary on the eight-minute version of ‘No Life Without The Blues’, Down and Dirty does falter with a few fillers, but makes for an interesting listen to hear what a young, new take on the blues (which always seems to be labelled as a dying genre) sounds like.

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