• Fri, Oct 23, 2020
Reviews

Buddha In A Jar Maximize Their Range On First EP

8.0

album Reviews Sep 16, 03:40pm

The Kolkata band brings in sounds from ambient music to Indian classical on the short but impactful ‘Silhouettes On A Distant Dream’

Active since 2016, Buddha In A Jar call themselves an ‘experimental fusion’ band, but their music suggests that it’s a bit of a misnomer. That tag inspires ideas of bands that take the most highbrow and complicated elements of some Western strain (like jazz) and our classical music to make something that is as much an intellectual statement as music people can listen to and enjoy. In fact, it wouldn’t be altogether wrong to think that the occasional culture of intellectual gatekeeping commonly dissuades a lot of us from viewing and enjoying our Indian classical music the way we listen to anything else; one would assume that something we hear commonly in so many contexts and is so baked into our culture is- I digress. What’s important about what Buddha In A Jar do is that they take elements from multiple sources and make accessible, catchy music with it.

There is eight minutes of music on ‘Silhouettes On A Distant Dream’ but a whole range of sounds and influences. The band seems to love using soundscapes to give their sonic palate a comfortable bed to lie on, so some of the material uses has ambience, warm keys and slowly oscillating synths to back things up, but these melt away when more instrumentation comes in. Most of the percussion is handled with drums and table, the interplay between which has been presented for years and years now, but the simplicity of the grooves here makes them more tightly knit in a way. They also accentuate the bass excellently. Melodic duties are largely handled by keys, guitars and an ersaj (Bengal-East Indian bowed instrument; it sounds fantastic when backed up by the range of frequencies here). The band chooses to use shades of tropes from rock, prog and a variety of stuff from the popular music of the last couple of decades, but the sounds provide a welcome breath of fresh air while keeping the three songs on here easy to get into.

 

 

The EP opens with ‘The Echoes’, which is a mass of delayed guitars, orchestration and other textures. It puts all that and some winsome vocals against electronic percussion and, oddly, a little spoken word. A table does come in to add some more girth, but it’s all about the atmosphere. ‘Lighthouse’ is the most interesting song here with its swirly keys, shuffling and lilting groove, forlorn ersaj lead parts (the loneliness its sound inspires is such a good fit) and the sudden shifts into what sounds like a sad love ballad. Also notable is the bass on this track, which provides some excellent moments. All the transitions on the track are on point as well; a quality that also exists in the closing track ‘Rajasthan’. This track does sound a little safer than the other two, but is again carried by its stellar instrumentation and accentuated sections. In fact, the best part about ‘Silhouettes On A Distant Dream’ is that it can be spoken about like this; there’s no pressing need to dissect its styles by saying ‘Oh look, it’s super Hindustani here’ and ‘and then it becomes all proggy while the Indian stuff takes a break’. What Buddha In A Jar have done so well here is taken their variety and built it into a homogenous listening experience that’s fun to listen to. There’s a lot going on for sure, but the fact that you don’t have to take a scalpel and slowly separate pieces of the music is the biggest factor in it being a good listen.

 

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