Arushi Jain - Under the Lilac Sky Music Album Reviews

Arushi Jain - Under the Lilac Sky Music Album Reviews
The Brooklyn-based composer and vocalist blends Hindustani classical music with new age synth on her dreamy, meditative debut.

Poets and artists have long looked at the dusk sky and seen glimpses of the ineffable. Composer and vocalist Arushi Jain channels this rich tradition on her debut, Under the Lilac Sky, a suite of floating synths and Indian classical melodies that evokes the moods and emotions of the evening hours. The diverse strands that come together in this dreamy, experimental sound reflect Jain’s own diasporic journey. There’s the Hindustani classical tradition that she grew up with in New Delhi, the modular synthesis and DIY spirit that she picked up while studying engineering and coding at Stanford, and the third-culture genre bending that brings to mind Sunny Jain, Arooj Aftab, Priya Darshini, and Brooklyn Raga Massive: fellow South Asian diaspora artists from her new home of Brooklyn.

Largely composed for a sunset performance at the opulent Alsisar Mahal palace in Rajasthan, the six tracks on Under the Lilac Sky are all rooted in Hindustani classical ragas. The building blocks of Indian classical music, ragas are melodic structures that incorporate a limited number of notes but allow for almost infinite improvisations and interpretations within that framework. Individual ragas are traditionally associated with specific moods and times of day. The four that Jain calls on for this record—des, khamaj, kafi, and durga—are evening ragas, meant to be performed between the hours of sunset and midnight and intended to evoke calm, melancholy, and contemplation.

While there is precedent for blending synths and ragas—Charanjit Singh’s Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat seems like a precursor—Jain takes a more experimental approach. Where Singh chose faithful reconstruction, Jain prefers deconstruction and recontextualization. She takes centuries-old Hindustani classical melodies and lovingly transforms them—altering the rhythm, stretching out the vocals—and bringing them in conversation with the new age synth tradition of Terry Riley and Suzanne Ciani, whom Jain has opened for. The result is an impressionist landscape of brooding drones and richly hued synth lines, anchored by Jain’s hypnotic vocals. (Not coincidentally, raga is literally translated as “coloring” or “dyeing.”)

Distant drones grumble and jitter on opener “Richer Than Blood,” a grey mechanical canvas transmuted into color by Jain’s gently rising vocals. Melodies evoking a sitar twinkle like prematurely visible stars, as Jain paints broad auburn brush strokes with sweeping, washed-out synths. More shades appear on the nine-minute “Look How Far We Have Come”—the subtle gradients of Jain’s partially submerged vocals, the glistening cascades of brightly colored synths, the modulated pulse of the bass drone. Like the other tracks, “Look How Far We Have Come” has no percussion, driven instead by the momentum of Jain’s repeated, mutating synth patterns. And yet the performance never seems to meander or lose momentum; it reels you into a calm, meditative world.

The sun has all but disappeared by the foreboding “My People Have Deep Roots,” with its throbbing bass and inky swirls of clouds. This is the pre-Edison night reconfigured as sound, an all-encompassing presence snuffing out all shape and color. The only light comes from Jain’s voice, dripping with loss and melancholy, a lonely candle trying to keep the darkness—and the demons that lurk in it—at bay. The bright keys and exuberant synth melodies return on “Cultivating Self Love” and the sprawling closer “Under the Lilac Sky.” The latter track, in particular, mimics the manic energy of night in urban India, its playful synth lines and chopped-up arpeggios rubbing against each other like roving bands of midnight revelers on a New Delhi street. The monsters of the dark—both internal and external—have been vanquished, replaced by a heady intoxication that slowly gives way to cozy bliss, at least until the next sunset.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Arushi Jain - Under the Lilac Sky Music Album Reviews Arushi Jain - Under the Lilac Sky Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on August 04, 2021 Rating: 5


Post a Comment