Monday, 27 February 2012

Sharaab - Asura

In today’s world full of recession and financial crisis, few are able to make their passion a full time job. However, Atlanta based Sharaab is lucky enough to work with music in his day job as a recording and mix engineer. He works with the likes of Karsh Kale and the Midival Punditz on their music before clocking off to work on his own.

Asura is Sharaab’s latest release. It is a credit to Sharaab that his music appears very simple and almost minimalist on the first listen. However as I listened to the tracks more and more I appreciated just how complicated each track is. This is partly thanks to excellent production, which Sharaab is proficient in due to his day job. Sharaab cites the Asian Underground movement as a major influence on his work, and this comes through in Asura.

This album is as much about the musicality as the production. Sharaab knows exactly when to add a beat, what vocal will work where and when to use Indian instruments. Sharaab was influenced by his mother, who was trained in Indian vocals and sitar and as a boy he played many different instruments himself. He was particularly drawn to percussion and studied tabla when he went on trips to India. This extensive knowledge of music gives Asura a rich diverse sound which is unique.

Exodust opens Asura. This track is a complex interplay of vocals, beats and ambient sounds which work brilliantly together. The overall effect is calming yet energising at the same time. Namesache evokes Sri Devi in Nagina with plenty of added bass. It has a great energetic vibe to it.

The third track on Asura is a remake of a 90s pop song and is cheekily named after the original artist. Illah is full of beats and dark bass which makes the song sound totally different to the original. Flute and synth are combine perfectly in Mathabhanga. This builds wonderfully and is a real electronic feast for the ears.

The opening of Electric Talwar is the scariest I have heard in a while, especially as it comes straight after Mathabhanga’s calming ending. This track is a riot of dark grimy bass, chanting vocals and clashing sounds.

Vivekonandrum is a track that never stands still as different elements are constantly being added and removed. It starts with a synth tune which reminds me in a strange way of Two Can Play That Game by Bobby Brown. The middle of the track is punctuated by choppy vocals and heavy bass.

Asura is not all dark. I found Citilites and Tryst of Fate were very uplifting tracks to listen to. Citilites in particular is very sunny with its choppy chords and hint of strings.

The album also includes five remixes of the main tracks. The remix of Electric Talwar is very different to the original. It is even darker and scarier. A trippy drum and bass remix of Mathabanga brings Asura to an end.

Verdict: It may take a few listens, but you will be seduced into a sublime world of beats and electronic sounds. Sharaab knows his craft and as a result this album is excellent and utterly unique. One to add to your alternative collection.

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