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Baiju Bhatt: Eastern Sonata

James Fleming By

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Every day more emigrants leave their homelands. And as they travel their musics shadow them. The songs follow the singers into their new homes and, just as the people learn the language, the tunes adopt the new country's phrases. Adding its musics to the sonic lexicons of their native countries. So that new songs will be written. Where these lands meet in rhythms and melodies.

Baiju Bhatt and Red Sun's Eastern Sonata is the sound of such a meeting. It plays like a dialogue between genres: world music, jazz, rock. Bhatt's violin-melodies snake from the speakers in long, flowing curves. While beneath him Blaise Hommage's bass and Cyril Regamey's drums roll with the power of the best rock bands. As if they were emphasising the lead instruments' movements. Italicising their key points.

"Pari Shokogun" opens the record like a portal to the new world. A land reshaped by the flows of people, where the borders have been scuffed by countless footprints. Bhatt's violin and Valentin Conus's saxophone sing this place's song. Tracing the outlines of its peaks and valleys with the contours of their melodies and improvisations. They weave around the exotic rhythms with the deftness of birds as Prabhu Eduard's percussion chases their flights on "Kintsukuroi." Where Bhatt's pizzicato introduction sets the track in motion. Sparking a constant flow that runs through its runtime like a long, unwavering road. The link from one place to the next. From people, to people.

Eastern Sonata is a record of movement—it neither ceases nor stills. Even on "Cosmopolis," where the time signature is treacherous as a mountain path, the band move with the looping, circular rhythm. Anchored by Hommage's bass, the lead instruments hop from beat to beat as if they were jumping from needlepoint mountaintops. The rhythm shifts to a Latin groove as the piano sneaks into its solo. Before the band stream into the closing build-up. And the record continues to roll through its soundscape. A vast, ever-shifting world.

Closing track "Song For Little Shai" opens with a swell of sound. Ushering in the gossamer piano chords and the drone of Krishna M. Bhatt's sitar. Here the European classical and Indian music traditions meet. Each one complementing the other, their nuances fitting like cogs. And the ethereal finish, of sitar-slides and a child's laughter, hangs in the air. Gentle as frost on a spiderweb. Brilliant as the sunlight's shine on its threads.

Everything on Eastern Sonata moves in harmony. Not just a musical harmony, but a human, cooperative one. Where different cultures come together instead of warring. And as more footprints scuff those borders, reshaping this world into the one in Eastern Sonata's music, it will become imperative that we listen to the fruits of such harmony. To keep the melting pot stirred.

Track Listing: Pari Shokogun; Kintsukuroi; The Joyful Warrior; Cosmopolis; Eastern Sonata; Ode to the White Ape; Upper Welsch Side; Opium; Land of Wonders; Whirlpool; Song for Little Shai.

Personnel: Baiju Bhatt: violin; David Tixier, piano; Mark Priore: piano; Blaise Hoomage: bass; Valentin Conus: soprano & tenor saxophone; Cyril Regamey: drums; Nguyên Lê: guitar; Krishna M. Bhatt: sitar; Prabhu Edouard: tabla, percussion; Jay Gandhi: bansuri flutre; Amine Mraihi: oud.

Title: Eastern Sonata | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: QFTF Records

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