Narendra Kusnur's music musings …



Depths Of The Ocean/ Susmit Sen

Fusion/ EMI Music/ Rs 350

RATING: ****

DAZZLING solo stretches, brilliant improvisation, amazing use of folk, classical and jazz-rock influences, music that simply grows with each repeated listen. On his debut solo album ‘Depths Of The Ocean’, Indian Ocean’s Susmit Sen again proves why he’s considered to be one of India’s leading and most innovative guitarists.

Those who’ve admired Indian Ocean will obviously find traces of the folk, Hindustani classical, jazz and rock elements that have blended marvellously to characterise the band’s distinct sound. But the emphasis here is clearly on Susmit’s unique style, aided by contributions from a range of vocalists like Shubha Mudgal, Nitin Malik of rock band Parikrama, Papon, Sari Roy and the late Asheem Chakravarty, who played a pioneering role in the development of the Indian Ocean signature.

Significantly, the album begins with a song featuring Asheem. ‘Rejuvenation’ starts off with smooth guitar phrasing, till Asheem’s taans take over. Because of its combination of musicians, this piece has a very clear Indian Ocean feel, but the next number, ‘City Lights’, has a completely different identity, embellished by Shubha Mudgal’s classical vocals, and a cameo flute performance by Rajeev Raja.

The title tune, featuring Nitin Malik, has some strong choruses, whereas ‘Tribute’ is a single-take guitar piece that boasts of a steady, classically-inspired build-up and a lilting climax. ‘Wild Epiphany’, which features Assamese singer Papon, has a folk feel, and ‘Intimacy’ with Sari Roy is really addictive, thanks to a wonderful catch-line. The seven-track set concludes with ‘Six String Salute’, Susmit’s solo guitar interpretation of the National Anthem.

Needless to say, ‘Depths Of The Ocean’ is an out-and-out treat for fans of Susmit, Indian Ocean and quality guitaring. And while the guitar is the dominant instrument throughout, one gets the right dose of the drums, tabla, bass, keyboards and flute. The only dampener, perhaps, is the price tag of Rs 350 — a hundred bucks less would have made it more accessible in these days of falling sales.

RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Classic


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