At a time when rap and pop seems to rule the charts comes an album that charts a different course. Svara-Kanti, an ensemble envisaged by composer-classical guitarist Simon Thacker, has come up with ‘Trikala’, a double album that traverses genres from across the globe and brings together 13 artistes with different musical mind-sets.
The Scottish classical guitar virtuoso, Thacker attempts to find through his compositions, a common meeting point between the Western and Indian musical systems.
East meets West
For his third album, Thacker has delved deep into Indian traditions, from Hindustani and Carnatic to Punjabi folk and Bengal’s Baul strains. There is also a Tamil interpretation thrown in along with an interesting arrangement for ‘Vande Mataram.’ Recorded in Chennai, Kolkata and Scotland, this work is, as Thacker says in his booklet, “designed to be the most advanced exposition of possibilities of the convergence of the East and the West, thus creating a new sound.”
Throwing light on his musical journey, this artiste from Scotland, who ‘chases the mystery,’ states, “Ancient classical, folk and spiritual forms… offer a window into the evolving soul of traditions. They inspire and serve as examples of how musical ideas, forms and genres gestate, mutate and gain layers of cultural wealth.”
Each of the 21 tracks in this album tries to explore and experiment with sounds and beats. Take for example Panchajanya, the opening track of the first CD. It explores the time cycle of five beats. Atmospheric and ambient, this piece is rooted in Carnatic rhythms. Celebrating the rich, earthy rhythms from the Punjab are ‘Aaj Koi Saade,’ from the wedding songs repertoire, and ‘Chan Kithan Guzari,’ a pre-Partition folk number. ‘Mann Vaasanai’ is a romantic burst of percussion sounds that paint “a poetic landscape, from darkness to light, from swirling storms to sunlight.”
Thacker places ‘Beyond Mara’ as the centrepiece of the album, which brings the violin and the tabla together with the guitar in a seamless string of pitches that are at once grand and evocative.
The mystical and magical Baul tradition of Bengal (both East and West) is represented in track such as ‘Hari Din Gelo,’ ‘Helay Helay’, ‘Tomar Kunjo’ and ‘Bhromor Koio.’
Breathing life into each note, each cadence, each beat is a talented group of musicians. There’s of course, Thacker who is the heart of each piece as he plays his classical guitar. Then there are the Carnatic percussionists N. Guruprasad on the ghatam, K.V. Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira and Neyveli Venkatesh on tge mridangam, who keep beat.
Justyna Jablonska’s cello and Jacqueline Shave’s violin stand on their own. The soaring vocals of Japjit Kaur, Afsana Khan, Farida Yesmin and Raju Das Baul (who also plays the khomok) lend a certain intensity and credibility. Sukhvinder Singh ‘Pinky’, Sunayana Ghosh and Sarvar Sabri on the tabla complete the picture.
‘Trikala’ is available for download from https:// www.simonthacker.com