Sheer Melody

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Black Friday - Indian ocean

With the album Black Friday, Indian Ocean has finally come of age. I remember the first time I watched them perform at our college, astounded at their technical proficiency and at the same time, the wonderful fluidity in their music. And it’s extremely nice to see that they have matured with each and every album. While Kandisa had a simplicity and a little immaturity in it, Jhini was a considerably more consistent album, and Black Friday simply defies all expectations.
Bandheh is probably the most listened-to song in the album, is a wonderfully composed number. Rahul Ram on the bass is wonderful as usual, giving his usual soft, gentle licks, unassuming but always in control. Susmit is excellent in the guitaring department, transitioning between acoustic and light distortion with effortless ease. The vocals are spot on as always, angry and mellow in parts, changing with the mood of the song. Watch out for the faint strains of the guitar which continue all through the last bars of the song, accompanying the vocals with acute dexterity. An extremely well-composed song.
Opening is a very un-Indian Ocean song. The opening strains of the soprano sax make you sit up and wonder. Distinctly influenced by jazz and middle-eastern music, it’s tough to accurately identify the inspiration in this. The jugalbandi consists of a well orchestrated amalgamation of the recorder, sax, the drums and an instrument I couldn’t quite recognize. However, I just wish they would have let the medley of various drums in the end not drag on for as long as it does. But of course, I guess the music would have been composed in consonance with the pace of the film, so I am not complaining.
Training is also very unlike any of Indian Ocean previous songs. The first bars of the song share a distinct similarity with the opening strains of the Opening. One also notices a slight similarity to a few songs of Jhini in this one. Also the traces of studio recording and synthetic drum usage in this song are quite apparent. Somehow, not the best that the band can offer. But again, a movie soundtrack should never be judged only on music proficiency, for that would be committing a grave injustice against the composers.
Bomb planting is a masterful song, and for me, is one of the best alternative compositions this band has done. Orchestral in nature, with a lot of keyboards and artificial brass sections, the way Susmit uses the muted acoustic guitar in this song is really beautiful. The drummer and the saxophonist ( I am really not sure who were the guys who were behind the sax in this ), have done a wonderful job with their subtle touches in parts. All in all, a wonderful composition, with a jazzy texture, and a very nice overall feel to it.
Chase is reminiscent of one of the albums which Shankar Mahadevan released with Taufiq Qureshi , called Rhydhun . It starts with an experimentation of sorts on obscure rhythms, and continues with a host of other percussive instruments coming together as the song progresses, giving an impression of chaos, pots and pans falling over, structures being razed to the ground, until the guitar and bass combine with the rhythms in one rollicking ensemble.
Badshah in Jail would remind you of the previous Indian Ocean albums, the same guitar strains, and the same melancholy melody. However, the maturity of the band, which it has achieved over the years, is clearly evident in the consistently befitting arrangement throughout the song. The vocals have just the required amount of pathos and are wonderfully executed. Especially beautiful are the flute parts which stray into the song every now and then, merging effortlessly with the vocals. The guitar starts with a somewhat laid-back attitude, and gradually picks up pace, with the characteristic fluidity which defines this band so well; and merges with the flute to give way to the vocals. With its myriad instruments and awesome vocals, this song, for me, defines this album.
Bharam Bhaap ke is a very well-composed song. The guitar has a strange feel to it in this song, almost electronic, very unlike their previous sounds. The vocals share uncannily similar characteristics with one other song, Bhor from their previous album Jhini . The combination of the dholak with the tabla to give a fluid tempo to the song is commendable. The guitar playing in this is very similar to the previous albums of the band, and would definitely invoke a sense of déjà vu. In spite of the similarities, it’s a very enjoyable song, with wonderful use of the suspended chords.
RDX is probably their most adventurous song in the album, and probably the song which would stand next to Badshah in Jail and Memon House in my list of favorites. A wonderful jazz experiment, with an obscure rhythm, an exquisite saxophonist and keyboardist fusing effortlessly with the main vocals, this is a song which reveals itself with multiple visits.
Memon House is an excellent song, absolutely unlike Indian Ocean and any of their previous compositions, but magnificent in its own right. The keyboard riff which plays throughout the song is one of the best riffs I have heard in recent times. The keyboard gives way to the flute, which in turn gives way to the saxophone and the cycle repeats itself over, reminding one of Prasanna’s experiments with Carnatic classical , until they all come together in one consummate whole. And then, the vocals join in typical Indian style, breaking away to a languorous drawl, which is tough to categorize. The whole song has a very refreshing sound to it, with quite beautifully executed experiments in different instruments, things which had been absent from their previous albums.

All in all, a very refreshing album, one that endears itself to you after continued listening.

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