• Sun, Jul 12, 2020

Soumik Datta Gives A Bit Of Everything On His Stellar New Album


album Reviews Nov 29, 01:37pm

‘Jangal’ is meant to be an impassioned cry about climate change, but it’s a million things more  
 Photo Courtesy: Souvid Datta, Soumik Datta

Soumik Datta is an Indian-born British artist who presents TV shows, plays the sarod, composes and does striking live shows. In short, he is multitalented. His music incorporates his mastery of the sarod into a modern and slightly edgy musical palate that is perfect for war movies and emotional soundtracks. His new album, ‘Jangal’, is written as a means to bring about some anger and increased awareness of climate change and how our forests are dying at a rate of knots and how our shameless and incredibly short-sighted humanity is not stepping up to do the thing that is not only right but obvious, and yet our supposedly developed and intricate brains cannot grasp the simple concept that we will die-
Sorry. Anyway this album is so much more than that. 



The brass tacks are as follows: ‘Jangal’ has five instrumental tracks and clocks in at about 27 minutes. There’s quite a lot of dense stuff musically over this fairly long runtime of the album. But first, the production; it is nothing short of brilliant. Soumik uses so much fun and exciting instrumentation to support his sarod (which takes the lead) that it gets all the time in the world to sit back and let its backing music do its thing. This is extremely important in the case of this EP because Soumik stays away from the one thing people hate about instrumental music; beating you over the head with the lead instrument. And to add to this, the backing elements are amazingly put together and frankly carry the whole EP. Hang drums? Check. Big, droning synths? Sure. Group vocals? Yep. Some Latin-type rhythmic elements? Hell yes. There’s so much to wrap one’s head around if one to searching for every little thing, but if not, all these things combine to provide a very smooth and epic listening experience.


The five tracks, then. Well, they all go in slightly different directions while maintaining the overall mood of the project. That mood is anger and frustration for the most part. There are some awesome buildups throughout the course of ‘Jangal’ that genuinely inspire emotion, which is hugely toits credit. The title track that opens up the album has this in spades. The percussion and synths are quite alternative and almost chill to begin with, but the sarod and piano that enter the track dispel any thoughts of calm. The synths also take on a more somber tone, and that sets up the transition the track makes in its last third; a wild, distorted turn that genuinely makes the song memorable. Moments like this are very much present on the other tracks here as well. About halfway through ‘Wildfire’, hang drums and some ominous backing vocals give a lot of added weight and depth. It is absolutely important to acknowledge how layered and excellent the production is on this album. ‘Beast’ is more synth-heavy than most other tracks on here and sort of benefits from it; it’s a bit more feral and sounds more like a low growl than a loud scream. This is in part due to the amount of awesome low-end the backing synths produce. The sarod is also relatively absent here, and that provides a nice change. ‘Myth’ is eight minutes and provides an almost proggy slow build. This is probably the most true to form track from the sarod’s point of view. It does all the driving and moves the song from section to section; even the parts that don’t have it are sort of setting up its next big entrance. That being said, the track is quite toned down and does have a bit more of a classical and folky feel. Jangal closes with ‘Plantations’, which is the most soundtrack-worthy song on offer. It is slow and doesn’t really want to go anywhere structurally, which results in a nuanced and deep (if a bit threadbare) ending to the project.


One would assume this album is not for purists, but that’s putting words in people’s mouths. One thing is for; ‘Jangal’ will turn dreamers into doers. That aside, it is first and foremost an incredibly well-produced EP with amazing instrumentation and assured, solid compositions. Whether you are in the business of caring about forests or not, this album is a phenomenal listen. 

Listen to JANGAL






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