• Fri, Jan 28, 2022
Reviews

Shubh Saran Shows Us How It Is Done

9.0

album Reviews Nov 15, 05:27pm

Fusion? And well-treated at that? ‘Inglish’ does so.

New York songwriter-musician Shubh Saran has been putting out some real quality content for a few years now with EPs, singles and a full-length album to his name, all well acclaimed. ‘Inglish’ is his shiny new album and it deals with a bunch of things that reflect his cross-country heritage of sorts. It covers a ridiculous amount of ground over ten tracks; jazz fusion, progressive rock and metal, and some Indian classical material too. Now, at this point, such ambitious projects sound often like a broken record; the same lofty heights in concept, the same mushy treatment and the same lukewarm results. But not here, not this time. ‘Inglish’ is a huge effort that does it right.

The sounds here are so well layered that one barely notices influences jumping in out of the clean, smooth mix. Hindustani motifs trade instruments throughout the 38 minutes of music here, brass, guitar, vernacular percussion, you name it. ‘postradition’ starts out with a spacey synth patch that suddenly goes into stuttering djent-y rhythms and brass sections, and somehow, it doesn’t come close to sounding like a hotchpotch of noises. Then all of it fades out into a flute and more ambience, after which the heavier rhythms return- even trying to describe things like this is a bit of a mouthful, let alone listening and picking out every little thing that’s going on. But it’s cohesive at the end of the day. Closing track ‘Mother Tongue Influence’ goes for an underlying bed of traditional grooves and is all the better for it. Opening song ‘Enculture’ has a sci-fi movie edge to it, and since it is kicking the album off, it is suitably cinematic. Some of the best melodies on the whole thing are to be found here, and it’s brutalist sonic profile is a delight. Pretty much every song on here has something to be enjoyed and further explored; ‘the Other’ has one of the more head-nodding grooves on the release, ‘There Across The Ocean’ is a more laid-back, epic and contemplative piece, ‘Ring Hunting’ is very much in the prog metal space in its intent but really jazzy in its execution- there’s a lot to dig into here. And throughout all of it, there’s that through-line of India; film-y melodies, classical phrases, Hindustani motifs and a lot more. One of the most impressive things about the album is the massive amount of things it dares to try doing.

Sure, the material here is very dense, packed with ideas and absolutely overflowing with sounds. But while it does that, it’s also musical and surprisingly thematic. A lot of people who attempt something on this scale end up having to browbeat the listener with sonic cues, but what Shubh Saran does so very well is allow his mix of cultures to speak for itself. And it speaks volumes.

 

Listen here.

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