Rahul Mukerji 2017
Enchantingly aromatic album from a jazz-rock conjurer of magical imagery – alien and alluring.
Since the ’60s, raga’s been an exotic Eastern spice on Western musicians’ table, but nationally flavored fusion doesn’t come from India all to often, if at all. That’s why Rahul Mukerji’s debut, a good decade in the making, feels so refreshing, the guitarist’s move to America enriching yet, fortunately, not changing his amazing palette – a vertiginous mix of tasty colors.
The listener’s sucked into this majestic vortex with a non-invitingly titled “Exit 13” that melds meandering drone onto a rock framework before letting the tabla-led and bass-spanked groove seep in to contrast a swirl in an Eastern pattern. Riffs and a shred adding textural details to the tapestry make for a Mukerji method – to outline a tune and then flesh it out in harmonies and weight, or even shape a heavy metal sheet around melody, never more so impressive as in “Sinner” – but the filigree of acoustic pieces like “Fingerprints” reveal an immense emotional depth to his lace. Fluid licks flurries on “Zidd” and delicious dewdrops on “A Path Less Travelled” may be not as blinding as a the title track – bound between sharp attack and blissful release – yet even these shorter cuts are mesmeric.
Moody as “Hope Anew” which can serve as a display of Rahul’s tone, or playful as on “Children Of I-2” where the beat gets appropriately simple, the most immaculate marriage of Indian music and jazz would be “Train Ride From Siliguri” whose interplay unravels various instrumental threads that are the very fabric of this album. All of them arresting, “Ma De Re Sha” is a rapture throughout announcing the advent of a new force on the fusion scene.