Music

Sarathy Korwar’s latest album is an homage to the immigrant experience

Korwar says the intended moods of More Arriving — which alludes to immigrants and refugees with its title — was resistance, but also pride.

Korwar says the intended moods of More Arriving — which alludes to immigrants and refugees with its title — was resistance, but also pride.   | Photo Credit: Rishabh Sood

Featuring a wide array of collaborators, including MC Mawali and vocalist Aditya Prakash, ‘More Arriving’ tackles themes like racism, class-based discrimination and even visas

Born in the US, raised in Ahmedabad and Chennai, and currently based in London (where he’s lived for the last decade), percussionist and producer Sarathy Korwar has referred to himself as an “outsider” in the past. His latest album, More Arriving, grapples with that part of his identity. “I think the question deep down is what you think is your own, and how much right you have over a certain piece of land,” he says.

Out today (July 26), the album presents a multi-genre, multicultural and multilingual record. He’s done something like this for his 2016 debut album Day to Day, featuring folk music of the Sidi tribe blended with jazz and electronic music. But this time, Korwar has created a protest album, choosing hip-hop as a central sound. “I started listening to a lot of hip-hop coming from India, in 2016,” he shares. “I was really curious about this growing scene at the time, because I felt like it was coming from the working class background.”

The immigrant story

Featuring emcees like Delhi Sultanate and Prabh Deep from New Delhi, Mumbai-based MC Mawali and Trap Poju, More Arriving also includes London poet Zia Ahmed, Indian American classical vocalist Aditya Prakash and Abu Dhabi-based writer Deepak Unnikrishnan. While the frenetic-paced ‘Mumbay’, featuring MC Mawali was the first single out in May with a music video, the second single ‘Bol’ features Ahmed’s acerbic wit, picking apart desi pop culture references and brown stereotypes with his deadpan delivery (“I’m auditioning for the role of Terrorist #1,” he says in one verse), building up hypnotically to a chorus featuring Prakash. On the trippy ‘Mango’, Ahmed asks pointedly, “So Englishman, which part of England do you grow them leaves to make your famous English Breakfast tea?”

Korwar’s album, which released today, presents a multi-genre, multicultural and multilingual record.

Korwar’s album, which released today, presents a multi-genre, multicultural and multilingual record.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Korwar says the intended moods of More Arriving — which alludes to immigrants and refugees with its title — was resistance, but also pride. “I was going for a certain defiance, pride in one’s own culture and community and being. I feel like being proud and defiant can manifest itself in different ways. Some people can be angry and defiant, like on ‘Mumbay’ and ‘Coolie’. But equally, something like ‘Mango’, which is laid back and vulnerable, but soft and sombre. It can be powerful and defiant.”

Bringing it back home

The producer’s jazz, psychedelic and electronic influences shine strongly in songs like the 12-minute ‘City of Words’, which juxtaposes the vibrant saxophone contribution of Tamar Osborn with downbeat rhythmic patterns. Korwar launches into tabla-based fusion on ‘Good Ol’ Vilayati’ with help from classical vocalist Mirande. The cinematically-menacing ‘Pravasis’, featuring a spoken word portion from writer Unnikrishnan, touches upon classism around the immigration lingo, while also mentioning visas. Coincidentally, Korwar is in the process of figuring out visas and schedules to help bring his Indian collaborators over to the UK to perform these songs with him. Later this year, he promises to bring the album to India. “I’m definitely looking forward to touring this album in India, because of the relevance to the urban young people who this record would speak to in ways that my earlier music probably didn’t. Not to the same degree anyway,” he concludes.

More Arriving released today (July 26). Details: sarathykorwar.com

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:00:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/sarathy-korwar-more-arriving-second-album-homage-to-immigrants/article28720394.ece

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