You can buy the album HERE
So for the first time I will be reviewing an instrumental album.
For those who listen to carnatic music, they must be well aware of Karthick Iyer’s name. For those who don’t know, Karthick Iyer Live is a collaboration of musicians from diverse musical backgrounds. An electric violin, mridangam, guitar, bass and drums along with vocals form the core. The band breaks down superficial barriers between genres, cultures and languages, to bring out the deep commonalities that define IndoSoul.
‘Korappu’ is a compositional format in carnatic music where two musicians exchange questions and answers through their instruments.
The sound of mridangam greets you as we are treated to a classic solo mridangam piece by Sumesh Narayanan for the first forty seconds of the song, before he concludes with a tihaai and makes way for Karthick on the violins. What follows is simply stunning. We witness a superb jugalbandi between the violin (Raga Shanmugapriya) and the mridangam, with guitar in the background.
The variations in the speed are brilliant. The last one minute is an orgasm. Literally. That is where Ramkumar Kanakarajan makes a grand entry with his drums. The way the two build up the tempo leading to a stunning climax is awesome. This track reminded me instantly of Slumdog Millionnaire’s “Mausam and Escape”.
What a way to begin! This one left me wanting for more.
A CLOWN’S JUNKET
The band’s first ever composition, it represents the beginning of the musician’s journey, as he balances his feet, while ensuring the audience stays entertained.
The song begins with a slow guitar rhythm by Vikram Vivekanand. Accompanying him on the bass is Naveen Napier. The beginning sound like any routine pop – ish song, but as the tune takes shape and with some percussion sprinkled here and there, one begins to like this melody.
At 1:20 minutes, Karthick enters with a somber violin note (Raga Sankarabharanam).
The way he slowly escalates from low to an ecstatic high note is beautifully done. The drums only enhance the climactic effect. That interlude is full – on Amit Trivedi style; I was reminded of the end portions of “Aazaadiyaan”. The second stanza once again plays the same tune but with added mridangam. It is this core tune which is very catchy. Though an instrumental piece, you cannot help but hum it all day long.
As if justifying the tension while one is in mid – air, this track starts on a highly energetic note with a tihaai – of – sorts (Which usually concludes a song).
Based on Raga Harikambodi, we have the electric violin playing a very catchy and addictive pop melody backed by a classic rock arrangement with drums. There is also a lot of percussion as the song progresses. The combo of the violins and drums enthralls us with its frequent high and low variations.
Midway, the electric guitars make an appearance. What follows is a unique and lovely culmination of the electric guitar and the violin. Although the entire portion is brilliantly done, somewhere I felt the electric guitars went a little overboard, resulting in a bit of noise rather than music. But immediately, Karthick retuns to the base tune, thus ending on a good note. The entire mix of violin, guitar, bass, mridangam and drums is very well done.
AT THE THEATRES
This was the first song I heard. Already out on youtube since a long time, this is a multi – layered and thematic song.
The song comprises of two layers – English lyrics and Tamil lyrics. It describes the scene of a play held in a theatre hall. The English lyrics depict people queuing up outside the theatre to watch the play. The Tamil lyrics depict what happens in the play. It is a song which talks about the philosophy behind relationships.
It is advisable to know this theme of the song and then listen to it. You will only enjoy it more.
As the song begins with lovely guitar riffs, Karthick Iyer’s violin sounds superb and fresh. Once again, this is a tune which can be easily hummed. The guitar correlating with the queues of people outside is a perfect metaphor. Karthick’s vocals are lovely and the mood he creates with the “Hush” word is brilliant.
The entire mood changes as soon as the play begins and the Tamil lyrics kick in. there is heavy percussion (Allwyn Paul) and mridangam which create a gorgeous background. This portion reminded me of A.R Rahman at few places.
The transition from the Tamil to English lyrics again is well done with a fantastic violin piece by Karthick. The song ends with the English portion which began the song. Overall, this one is again a brilliant track, a complex yet beautiful track.
Here are the lyrics of the song (Both English and Tamil) –
Hey I wanna tell you a story today
About a play that blew me away
So many people flock to the streets to catch any bit of the action oh! it’s so true
Hush the stage is set
Burning lights, looming sets
Actors floating in
Wearing new lives
Idhu oru kadhal kadhaiyin kelvi kuri
Piriyum idhayangalin thedhi kuri
Kadhal mogam neendhiya sogam
Unmayin thanimai penmayin inimai
Hey I wanna tell you a story today
About a play that blew me away
people flock to the streets to catch any
bit of the action oh! it’s so true
Melirippavanin oar sadhanam
Vaazhnthu parkum naam
A SARANGA CONVERGENCE
As the name suggests, it is Raga Saranga which is being played. It is entirely Karthick’s show for the initial two minutes. What follows is sheer brilliance. There is a Lydian scale inspired guitar solo which when combined with the violin piece sounds very good. But the highlight of the song is the powerful Konnakol chants by Sumesh Narayanan. For those who don’t know, Konnakol means vocal percussion.
Once the Konnakol ends, it is again Karthick who takes the job of taking us till the song ends with some delightful violin, a nice tempo change and a soft and subtle end.
REJOICING IN RAGHUVAMSA
Composed by Patnam Subramania Iyer, “Rejoicing in Raghuvamsa” is one of the happiest Carnatic songs. Composed in Raga Kadhanakudhukalam, this classic piece usually serves as a conclusion in Carnatic concerts.
The feel in the entire track is that of a gleeful one – be it the mridangam, the drums or the outstanding violin. Each and every instrument evokes happiness and joy. The listener too has a smile on his face.
Somewhere close to 3 minutes, there is an increase in the tempo which further escalates the jubiliant mood created by the song. Karthick keeps getting better with each passing second. By the time the track finishes, you are completely floored by him.
OVERALL, “INDOSOUL” is a fabulous debut album for someone who has been associated with music and renowned music directors since many years. It was a pleasure listening to every single track. The effort behind each track can be seen as the band lays no stone unturned in delivering an album which will be appreciated by music lovers for a long time.
As Karthick writes in the CD booklet –
“What is it about “good” music that strikes such a deep chord with us, no matter where it comes from? Is it the genre, the beat, the instruments, the notes, the voice or something else?”
Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I can definitely tell one thing – You are making music that is not only “GOOD”, but much better than that.
MY RATINGS – 9 / 10