Dreamy notes….

Artiste: Blackstratblues Album:The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour

Published - May 05, 2015 06:09 pm IST



For anyone who has witnessed the wizardry of Mumbai guitarist Warren Mendonsa live, whether it’s his work with film composer Amit Trivedi or with alternative rock band Zero (one of the top bands in the Indian independent circuit even today, despite the one-off gigs) or even his main priority –the mostly instrumental rock band Blackstratblues – probably knows the importance of a new album from him.

The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour, the third Blackstratblues album and the follow up to 2009’s The New Album, has a lot of noticeable changes – he’s roped in the likes of drummer Jai Row Kavi and percussionist/producer Karsh Kale, as well as bass player Adi Mistry so that he can concentrate on all guitars. This album, the first since Mendonsa returned to India from New Zealand, is Blackstratblues more as a band than as his solo project, and it shows straight from songs like the trippy opener ‘Renaissance Mission’, with Kale handling the drums over psychedelic guitar layers that starts the album off like a rollercoaster. Mendonsa invites vocalist Nikhil Dsouza on ‘Come Away’, lending a dreamy slow blues vibe to the song. While the rest of the album is entirely instrumental, Mendonsa’s experiments with vocalists continue to be worthy, but we prefer it when he lets his guitar do all the talking.

He latches on to some great, oddly folk-like guitar hooks on songs such as ‘Anandamide’ and ‘Folkish Three’ and dives back into simple, gentle blues on the track ‘E Major Blues’. Much like his 2007 debut album, Nights in Shining Karma, Mendonsa’s music still has that ethereal tone that makes it a nocturnal listen. While he has equally well-known sunny day songs such as, well, ‘Ode to a Sunny Day’ from The New Album, and songs like ‘Folkish Three’ on this album, the last two songs – the title track ‘The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour’ and ‘Two Sides of the Same Coin’ are slow-building, soothing blues numbers, with Mendonsa’s guitar tone very reminiscent of some of the best in rock – from Pink Floyd to Cream. At the end of ‘Two Sides of the Same Coin’, near the six-minute mark, Mendonsa indulges himself in some surf rock, which is yet another extension to a guitarist who can’t be bound.

The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour will make you a believer in guitar-based rock for certain.

There’s nothing like a good solo, and amazingly warm tones that’ll make everyone from guitar geeks to the layman take notice of Blackstratblues.

(Available for Rs 150 in MP3. Buy the album on bit.ly/BSBalbum)

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