Breathing under Water

The instrumentals especially the new age ones are meant for creating a pleasant aural ambience. When we listen to such new age instrumentals while doing some work, it doesn’t demand our complete attention and yet it fills an unknown void. Whenever our attention turns to the music that plays currently, it sounds pleasant. We don’t know what the main theme of the song is, what the structure of the song is or how it flows and yet when we listen to the small part that suddenly grabbed our attention; it sounds so enchanting and makes us to continue our work that we are doing, with a more relaxed mind.

But all this doesn’t mean that new age songs are just filled with hooks played on ear pleasing classical instruments to create soothing soundscapes. It would have a strong soulful melody that leaves us awestruck when we take time to sit and listen to the album patiently, paying attention to the details of its structure, melody, rhythm and orchestration. There are instrumentals with complex melodies and harmonies meant for live performances where the listening experience is enhanced and become more exciting when we listen to the piece being performed live by the musicians. There are instrumentals with a simple melody, being orchestrated beautifully to be heard by us sitting in a dark room with our eyes closed.

‘Breathing under Water’ is an instrumental album which has music pieces that fall under all aforementioned kind of instrumentals. ‘Breaking under water’ surprises a listener from the word go, mainly because of its variety. Most of such instrumental albums turn tedious because of the same kind of melody, music, orchestration and fusion being repeated in all the tracks of the album. But in ‘Breathing under Water’, except for the constantly and aptly used Sitar, no two tracks sound the same.

‘Burn’ has trance meets pop meets electronica meets Hindustani kind of fusion. Sitar pieces go through e-gadgets creating unique sounds in ‘Slither’. The soulful main Sitar theme of the album is introduced in the title track ‘Breathing under water’ and like motifs in typical movie soundtracks, the same theme with some western touches is used in ‘Sea dreamer’ and there is a soothing reprise version too. ‘Ghost story’ rendered innately by Sunidhi chauhan is an intense melody with a constant folk rhythm. ‘PD7’ is a typical jugalbandhi we get to listen to in a fusion concerts, in which live drums, Sitar and Shankar Mahadevan’s vocals slowly and gradually increases the complexity and tempo of their renditions to reach the final harmonious crescendo. ‘Easy’ is less tight than other tracks but easy on ears with a simple melody rendered so lightly by Norah Jones. ‘Light glass folk’ is like a Sitar concerto with Sitar in the lead and symphonic strings adding an emotional swing from behind. ‘A perfect rain’ is a typical Bollywoodish soft rock number with exquisite vocals by Shankar Mahadevan. ‘Abyss’ creates a variety of soundscapes and moods with varied acoustic instruments and vocals. In ‘Oceanic – Part 1 (featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar)’ with heavy strings backing and pure live Sitar sound, Shankar prepares us for the part 2 which is for purists, who want to listen to Sitar without any ornamentation in the name of orchestration or fusion.

The only issue with ‘Breathing under Water’ is that some of the tracks are loosely arranged and not as tighter as other and that is one of the reasons why I prefer Anoushka’s ‘Rise’ to this one. But on its own, ‘Breathing under Water’ is a must listen for fans of new age music.


Arun said...

Thanks Suresh!

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