Monday, November 30, 2015

Ranjit Barot - 2010 "Bada Boom"

He was the rhythmic center of John McLaughlin's Floating Point (Abstract Logix, 2008)—an album that found the fusion guitar great exploring his decades-long interest in an east/west nexus from the electrified and harmony-centric angle of the jazz tradition, rather than the opposing angle of his longstanding and largely acoustic Shakti and Remember Shakti groups, which weighed more heavily on Indian music's linearity and polyrhythmic complexity. Now, reflecting Ranjit Barot's assimilation of the fusion and progressive rock music that he heard growing up with his inescapable roots at a similar mitochondrial level, Bada Boom further clarifies the Indian drummer's simpatico with McLaughlin. The two artists clearly share common ground, but come to it from near-diametrically opposite ends of the broadest possible spectrum of musical and cultural upbringing.

Bada Boom may be Barot's debut as a leader, but reflects his lengthy and busy career as session player, film score composer and producer in his native India. Just like Floating Point, Bada Boom brings together a group of musicians from around the world. Here, however, Barot collects a much larger international cast, including—along with well over a dozen Indian musicians—American guitarist Wayne Krantz, British saxophonist Tim Garland, Scottish pianist Gwilym Simcock, Turkish-born/American resident keyboardist Aydin Essen...and, of course, McLaughlin, who guests on "Singularity," as appropriately named a statement of intent as an album opener can be. As with much of Barot's writing, it's episodic and cinematic, covering considerable ground in its relatively brief eight minutes. Moving from visceral, 9/8, introductory riff—driven by bassist Matthew Garrison and Barot's thundering kit—to airy interlude, with Garrison delivering a brief but stunning solo, Barot's konnakol (Indian vocal percussion) shifts the song's gears, yet again, into a groove-laden middle section, where solos from veena player Punya Srinivas and pianist Harmeet Manseta suggest both polarity and commonality to be found amongst Indian musicians mining both ends of the east/west continuum. Returning to the initial theme might seem predictable, but only until a staggering closing segment, where McLaughlin engages in some incendiary free play with Barot, makes clear that nothing is as it seems.

Similarly, nylon-string guitarist Amit Heri and flautist Palakkad Sreeram turn the beginning of "T = 0" into a pastoral contrast to "Singularity"'s burning intensity, even when The Nirvana String Section, Barot's soaring vocals and Dominique di Piazza's fretless bass expand the sonic landscape. But, again, it's wonderfully deceptive, as the time then doubles and a raga-informed theme emerges, with Di Piazza magically combining pulse and high octane melodic foil. Soprano saxophonist Garland and electric mandolinist U. Rajesh solo with, respectively, fierce bebop chops and almost impossible, lightning-fast dexterity, leading to a whammy bar-driven solo from guitarist Marc Guillermont over a culminating combination of this traditional composition's two movements that illustrates Barot's astute arrangement skills.

And that's only one-third of Bada Boom's far-reaching combination of thoughtful writing, outstanding performances, and a cultural purview that goes beyond the more obvious mix of Indian tradition and western jazz interests. At once exhilaratingly cathartic and transcendentally beautiful, Bada Boom is an ambitious debut—fusion at the deepest, and truest, sense of the word.
Fusion and classical Indian rhythms merge on this spectacular confluence of styles. Drummer Ranjit Barot erupts on the opening East-meets-West salvo “Singularity,” a time-shifting number with blazing solos from electric bassist Matthew Garrison, veena master Punya Srinivas and guitar great John McLaughlin. The Nirvana String Section adds majesty to the proceedings on “T = O,” which features a staggering solo from electric mandolinist U. Srinivas. “Revolutions,” in memory of Charlie Mariano, is a modern reworking of a traditional Carnatic number, while “Supernova,” with Remember Shakti bandmates Srinivas and tabla master Zakir Hussain, is a tribute to the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha. Tim Garland’s 15-piece Underground Orchestra punctuates the ambitious “Dark Matter,” a track that also showcases Barot’s South Indian konnakol vocals. 
Ever since Shakti I have been fascinated by Carnatic fusion. It is a very rare and special type of music that takes equally rare and special musicians to play it. Many have stepped up to the plate, but the torch was passed (IMO) to Shawn Lane + Jonas Hellborg. It may be bold to say, but after Lane's passing I am now confident it lies with Barot and Hellborg.

To be fair, I resisted reviewing it immediately to help judge the album's longevity... and the bottomline is I still listen to it frequently. Overall I find the concept of the album very interesting and I love hearing how it flows and progresses to the the final conclusion. Being a fusion fan I am no stranger to listening to some of the most low quality "self produced" or "bootlegged but then later" released recordings. With that said one of the album's highlights is the production, it is astounding.

Bada Boom has Great production, songwriting, scope and originality. A serious contender for album of the year (top 5 at least). GET IT! 
Track Listing:

1. Singularity;
2. T = 0;
3. Revolutions (In memory of Charlie Mariano);
4. Supernova (in memory of "Abbaji" Ustad Allarakha);
5. Dark Matter;
6. Origin.


Ranjit Barot: drums, vocals (1, 2, 4), konnakol (1, 5), keyboard programming (1, 2), keyboards (3, 6), lead vocals (6);
John McLaughlin: guitar (1);
Matthew Garrison: bass (1);
Mattias IA Eklundh: guitar (1);
Palakkad Sreeram: VL1 physical modeling synthesizer (1, 2), flute (2), vocals (5);
Harmeet Manseta: keyboards (1-3), piano solo (1), piano (4), electric piano (5);
Sanjay Divecha: guitar (1), acoustic guitars (3);
Punya Srinivas: veena (1);
The Nirvana String Section (1, 2, 4);
Tim Garland: soprano saxophone (2), tenor saxophone (4), saxophones (5), flute (5);
Dominique Di Piazza: bass (2);
U. Rajesh: electric mandolin (2);
Marc Guillermont: guitar (2);
Amit Heri: acoustic guitar (2);
Pete Lockett: percussion (2);
Aydin Essen: keyboards (3);
 Sridhar Parthasarthy: Indian percussion (3), djembe (3), percussion arrangement (3), percussion (6); Taufique Qureshi: djembe (3), percussion (3, 4), vocal textures (4);
Suzanne D'mello: lead vocals (3), backing vocals (3);
Samantha Edwards: backing vocals (3);
Thomson Andrews: backing vocals (3);
Leon DeSouza: backing vocals (3);
Thiru Moorthy: nadaswaram (3);
Zakir Hussain; table (4);
U Srinivas: electric mandolin (4);
Elie Afif: upright bass (4);
Chandana Bala: vocal solo (4);
Paras Nath: flute (4);
Gwilym Simcock: piano (5);
Mohini Dey: bass (5);
Dhruv Ghanekar: guitar (5);
Tim Garland's Underground Orchestra Horn Section (5);
Scott Kinsey: keyboards (6);
Wayne Krantz: guitar (6);
Nicolas Fiszman: bass (6);
Kirti Sagathia: vocals (6);
Neuman Pinto: backing vocals (6);
Bianca Gomes: backing vocals (6).



  2. I'm eager to give it a spin, after the reading of your good presentation. Thank you, Crimhead !

  3. hey bho, with that satanic idol avatar you display, i'll bet you'll just love this one too! flame on...soon enough for you.

    1. Hey bho, the avatar is from the King Crimson album....oh and you suck :-)

  4. Amazing musicians on this. Will give it a listen. Thank you!