Naveen's Flute Flourishes

Flute is one of the simplest instruments providing the most divine sound or music. A.R.Rahman said in an interview, “an instrument is just an instrument, it is the player who gives life to that with his imagination and creativity”. Naveen is one such flautist for sure. Who can forget his rendition of emotionally charged notes in Bombay theme. In this album, he has aimed to prove his proves and versatility by playing different genres of music on flute.

The album starts with highly energetic flute rendition and rocking percussions with Sivamani on drums in the title track “Fluid”. As the name implies, the flute just flows like a fluid in this track. Naveen shows his proves in carnatic classical music with the track “Mohana”, I think this is the raga on which “Theekuruviai” song from “Kangalal Kaithi Sei” is based on as the tune pretty much sounds the same. The arrangements are perfect for this track giving a live katcheri feel. Next comes the south Indian folk in “Chennai Rain”. It has pretty familiar rhythm that we heard from “Minnalae” theme music but the livelier rendition of Naveen arrests our attention. I don’t know why Naveen selected “Jiya Jale” among Rahman’s compositions, may be it has got some complex stream of notes that might challenge any flautist. The tune sounds pretty good in its flute avatar.

First Light" is an apt music to start your day with, flute evokes sun rising effect (boopalam) but for some unknown reasons, the track suddenly shifts to different mood with a peppy tune played on flute. I was expecting a solo flute track without any backing arrangements and when this track started, I thought this would be the song but it ended up quite differently. In the song, “Symphony” Naveen moves to western classical genre. “You and I” is the only song with vocals and kids chorus in it with Naveen also rendering an alaap. As you can find with any debut album, this song is for world peace. The flute piece in this track is truly haunting and is perfectly in synch with the mood of the narration. “Essence” is the last and longest track in the album that goes Hindustani classical way. It is a perfect track to end with Naveen giving an exhaustive rendition.

Initially I was little disappointed with the version of Bombay theme in this album. Naveen reduces the tempo of the theme further. My ears are trained to listen the first three notes of the theme played quite smoothly without any break or pause in the middle but here there is considerable period of pause between the first and second note. There is no smooth flow between the first three notes. It sounded like how Americans played the Bombay theme on strings in Los Angeles concert. I was expecting more of soul stirring improvisations on flute like how Naveen performed the theme in the Los Angeles concert but there are no such improvisations in this track. Though the rendition is flawless, it takes time for us to accustom to this reduced tempo of the theme. The theme starts with a thundering percussion arrangement in which the tempo gradually rises and comes to a pause to break out to the haunting Bombay theme. This kind of building momentum is usually done to give us goose bumps when it breaks and suddenly starts a haunting theme on a solo instrument but we don’t get that effect here. The percussion part sounds good when heard as a stand-alone piece. The piece played by the string section in the original theme is also played with flute here. This doesn’t sound great either. There is also an interesting mix of “Uyirae Uyirae” tune from Bombay in this same track. But instead of playing it on synth strings, Naveen could have rendered it with flute. It would have had a much better impact and sound with flute. May be all this opinion of mine about this track is because, my senses are so used to the original version of the theme, any modified version of it doesn’t meet the class of the original.

After listening to this album, I thought how it would sound if A.R.Rahman releases an instrumental album with Naveen on Flute and Sivamani on Drums. Even though there is no Rahman here, both the presence and absence of A.R.Rahman can be felt in almost all the tracks of the album. The presence of Rahman is because of vintage Rahman sound in every other track, which may be because it is impossible to separate Rahman sound from Naveen’s flute and adding to the effect, is H.Sridhar’s sound mixing. The absence is because of the lack of class and finesse in orchestration and arrangements of the songs. By saying so, I don’t mean that the album is bad, it is actually good but there is definitely much scope for improvement. Take any song of A.R.Rahman you would feel that it couldn’t get any better. I can’t arrive at such kind of superlative verdict about the orchestration in the songs of this album.


Varun said...

well reviewed!
ill get the CD today!

Ramesh said...

Off topic - Suresh i was listening to a Hindi Album "Strings - Bound By Faith" by one Zubeen Garg. Give it a try. Think you may like it.

Ramesh said...

Oops... Google Deccan Herald Love in the times of a mela for the link.

Aakarsh said...

Exceptionally well-written.I am looking forward to buy this album.Thanks for the wonderful review.


Suresh Kumar said...

varun, aakarsh: thanx..

ramesh: thanx for recommending... i will try it out...