Two years after the release of his acclaimed Charlie Parker
project Bird Calls
(ACT), saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa returns with his longstanding Indo-Pak Coalition for Agrima
, a vinyl and download-only release that is a dazzling hybrid of Indian music and furious jazz-rock.
Besides Mahanthappa the group consists of guitarist Rez Abbasi
and drummer/tablaist Dan Weiss
, with the occasional bit of electronic enhancement floating in the background. Overall, the music is very tight and forceful. "Snap" best displays its general setup: Mahanthappa's alto snakes around wildly in the lead, as Abbasi accompanies him with deep, twangy low-register chords like Gabor Szabo
; and Weiss percolates behind on tabla or trap drums. However, every other track adds different details to the template.
"Can-Did" is taken at a slower tempo with Abbasi's guitar getting an opportunity to really resonate. "Showcase" settles into a swaggering rock groove, with Mahanthappa playing slippery soul lines as Abbasi picks flinty rhythm chords, a sound that slowly slips into abstraction as glassy synthesizers appear in the background and Weiss switches from tabla to crashing drums. Synthesizers actually begin the title track playing a dizzying roller coaster melody with drum accompaniment. Then the rest of the trio joins in, following the synth lines before going unexpectedly into an Irish reel, with Mahanthappa dancing a jig in the foreground and Abbasi slamming wide power chords.
"Revati" starts with ghostly electronic sounds surrounding Abbasi's twisted guitar manipulations, before Mahanthappa bears in with a slow, serpentine melody that gets faster, as Abbasi comes down with heavy rock rhythm guitar. "Rasikapriya" and "Take-Turns" both begin with loops or cloudy abstractions, and go on to alto and guitar doing frantic solo tears that evoke vintage Mahavishnu Orchestra
. The soul in Mahanthappa's tone is clear amidst all his rapid-fire buzzing, while Abbasi's dizzying runs are pure psychedelic rock. This release is enjoyable in itself but these guys sound like they had so much fun just creating this in a recording studio; how powerful they must sound in concert.
Track Listing: Alap; Snap; Showcase; Agrima; Can-Did; Rasikapriya; Revati; Take-Turns.
Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone, electronics; Rez Abbasi: guitar, electronics;
Dan Weiss: tabla, drums.
| Year Released: 2017
| Record Label: Self Produced