Raagatronic/ Shriram Sampath and Swarupa Ananth
Label: Times Music
Price: Rs 295
THE blend of traditional Indian music with electronic textures has a large potential audience among the younger generation. Mostly, these listeners consist of people who like the ambience of Indian classical music, without really knowing much about the nuances, and want something modern and progressive at the same time.
‘Raagatronic’, composed, arranged and programmed by Shriram Sampath and Swarupa Ananth of the group Filter Coffee, is a commendable effort in this direction. Shriram, a flautist, and Swarupa, who plays tabla and many other percussion instruments, use classical Hindustani raagas, and mix them with hypnotic electronic grooves and ambient sounds. For the main melodies, they have chosen stringed and bowed instruments like the sitar, e-sarod, guitar, dilruba, sarangi and violin, using a good balance between sampled sounds and live playing.
The album begins with raag Pilu, using a sitar sound, and uses violin on Darbari, guitar on Bhimpalasi, sarangi on Bhairav, sitar on Malkauns, dilruba on Yaman and e-sarod on Ahir Bhairav. The final piece, set in Bhairavi, uses the violin, veena and sarod. While the guest artistes include Chintoo Singh and Vipul Khunte on guitars, Manas Kumar on violin and Praashekh Borkar on e-sarod, Swarupa has herself played the tabla and percussions.
Incorporating many eclectic sounds and a wide assortment of rhythms, the tunes grow on repeated listening. Personal favourites are Bhimpalasi, Malkauns and Yaman, which have a good build-up and a perfect amalgam of the traditional raags and modern elements. Bhairavi impresses with its peppiness, and tight mix of sounds. The only jarring piece is Bhairav, where the sampled sarangi sounds rough in comparison to the actual sound of the instrument.
Being an experimental album, this may not impress the purists looking for the conventional way of gradually increasing the tempo to explore raags. But for audiences with an open mind, this is a good set to keep on loop. The pieces are roughly between four-and-a-half to a little over five minutes in length, and thus never drag. All in all, a good collection to boost your mood, with a soul that’s very Indian.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding