• Tue, Jul 27, 2021
Reviews

Apoorva Krishna Shows Her Pedigree On New Album

8.0

album Reviews Mar 19, 03:23pm

‘Intuition’ shows her obvious talent on the violin in a range of contexts

Apoorva Krishna has the chops and merit of a top-tier musician, so it isn’t surprising that she’s done as much as she has. A couple of decades of training, Berklee, Shankar Mahadevan, Shakti, William Cepeda, her own fusion band… This isn’t someone just finding their feet and beginning to put out music, no. Her new album ‘Intuition’ combines her experience and knowledge of multiple genres into 8 songs which put her violin in a bunch of different spaces. Obviously she is an accomplished player, so it sounds excellent on a sonic level. But it’s the often fun and restrained sense of fusion that makes the album such a strong release.

Any knowledgeable Carnatic or Indian classical musician or fan would appreciate and understand the actual technical of what’s going on here, but ‘Intuition’ is yet another piece of proof that you don’t need that to enjoy the music purely as a bunch of songs. It’s a pretty big misconception that you have to have a fully deep understanding of the art form to even begin to enjoy the music in classical circles, but someone probably just made that up. The production here reinforces this with Apoorva’s violin (obviously) being front and centre. There is a very clean and modern vibe to how the instruments sound and while the dusty and fuzzy aesthetic is very popular these days to give things personality, this is one of the cases where it might not have been appropriate. The clarity of the mix here is actually quite important because of the variety in instrumentation. It would be utterly pointless to list all the different kinds of sounds used on ‘Intuition’ because each song explores a different palate. It’s also reasonable to expect that the album might not flow as well as something more streamlined, but her violin is the common thread between everything. So even though the songs are disparate, they share something. And disparate they are.

 

 

‘Ragamaya’ features Shankar Mahadevan and, well, has tropes that would be described by learned people as containing Carnatic elements. However, it combines it with an ebb and flow that sounds strangely cinematic; there are moments where it feels like the song is sort of welling up underneath you. Of course, it then shifts into the various sections the genre demands, but there is a sense of epicness one might not usually expect. ‘Transcend’ with William Cepeda jumps into more Latin-type themes with full abandon and works really, really well. The percussion, the head-nodding and punctuated middle section and Apoorva’s more forlorn and melancholy melodies are at home here. There is also space for some next-level bass, a tiny refrain and solos galore. ‘Blossom’ is essentially a grand and more ‘composed’ (like Western composed music) that is cavernous and foreboding. Featuring Aaron Sinclair, it also has a droning quality to it. It’s a pretty scary experience, truth be told, but it doesn’t make it any less compelling. The strings generate that pit-in-your-stomach nervous feeling with success. After a much shorter and condensed trip back into the Carnatic mold (‘Merging Parallels’ with Varijashree Venugopal, which features an original composition by Apoorva; the story behind it is that John Mclaughlin encouraged her creative decision given the parallels between his vision and hers, namely combining the commonalities between the Indian and Western systrems of musical thinking; that is obviously a huge endorsement but it doesn't change the fact that the song is excellent), the amusingly named ‘Tinky Winky’ goes into the kind of jazz fusion that would bring the roof down at your favourite cultural hotspot. It’s all there here; big drum grooves, full-beans violin runs, saxophone solos and general structure jazz sometimes has to allow everyone to solo their socks off. Apoorva really goes for it here and it’s something to behold. ‘Inner Voice’ is maybe the tenderest song here and its soft piano and harp accompaniment goes extremely well with her violin; this track really stands out in terms of emotional weight. ‘Valencia’ and ‘Timeless’ end the album as two wildly different songs; ‘Valencia’ is a mass of flamenco guitars, distorted electric guitars (yep, there are lead melodies which Apoorva plays off of) and a groove that sounds a bit glassy and thin for rock, but it works with everything else relatively well. ‘Timeless’ combines more traditional rhythms with- well guessed, bluegrass-y traditional American elements. If there was ever a document about how any instrument sounds strong when it is soloing over our classical sonic palate, ‘Intuition’ would be the CD you’d find taped to the last page.

Again, it must be said that the music on ‘Intuition’ is exploratory in nature. The idea is primarily to prove that Apoorva can play in any context, write in any context and genre-bend with freedom. This does make it sound like the album is more of a technical experience than anything else; a thesis more than a full-blooded listening experience. That isn’t really the case. While there is probably a lot of technical know-how and information that can be got out of it (and the people who live in that world would find it all), the bare bones of it is that these are eight good songs, genre or not. That is what stands out most to the average human, and that is possibly the most important thing about it.

Listen to 'Intuition' here.

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