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Reviews

Adi & Suhail - Culture Code Landscape

6.0

album Reviews Apr 28, 02:19pm

Adi & Suhail release their debut full length album, Culture Code Landscape, exploring sounds of fusion.

In this day and age when one thinks of a fusion record – particularly one coming from virtuoso instrumentalists and musicians like Aditya Balani and Suhail Yusuf Khan where one half is an alternative rock and jazz guitar mastermind and the other an eighth generation sarangi player with prodigal knowledge of Hindustani classical music – one would expect to hear something surprising, intriguing, and possibly ingenious. Balani’s evidently vast skill set has been the cause of the creation of some interesting music; beyond encompassing an array of techniques like blues jazz grooves and fretless solos, Balani’s skill is backed with knowledge which is evident from his collaborations with various artists – Five8’s ‘Broke’ off of Our Imaginarium, to count just one. Having said that, Culture Code Landscape falls short of the mark of innovation; in a style of music that has practically unknown boundaries and limits, the duo’s debut album does not push the envelope per se. Most of us have heard Advaita, most of us already know how masterfully creative Suhail Yusuf Khan has proven to be, and most of us already love his musicality and innovation.

There are so many things that one would love and possibly hate within each track of the album; one common flaw that spans throughout the album will keep the listener questioning, “Why is this song not veering into an unexpected tangent when I can clearly see the possibility myself?” Instead, the tracks on the album will give you something a listener well versed in fusion would ‘expect’, even predict. The album dwells in a very safe place where fusion perhaps is most comfortable; considering the genre itself, Adi & Suhail have managed to create an album that fusion listeners will enjoy, but probably will not induct a new listener to the community. Suhail’s vocals, though technically sound and well adapted to this form of music, for me, lack personality. ‘Zindagi’ has two versions on this record, one sung by Suhail and the reprised version sung by Shilpa Rao with interesting changes in the musical track, like the inclusion of Tomos Williams’, trumpet that adds a completely different perspective to the sound; when compared with each other, the difference in the fluency of the vocal delivery along with the difference in the musical arrangements on the two tracks are immense, with the latter version snatching the baton from the former like candy from a baby. 

Regardless of the pioneering style of music that fusion is, I do not like to believe that everything that could be done in the world of fusion has been done already. A collection of sounds that naturally reside in separate spectrums of the soundscape, say, jazz and Hindustani classical for example, when ‘fused’ together give the music a personality that doesn’t seem borrowed from either style and the amalgamation of said sounds creates a completely different spirit to itself instead. Keeping this in mind, I expected innovation from this album like the musical crescendos and rises through ‘Sitaare’ and ‘Laage Re’ that will leave your jaw on the floor with their intensity; but these moments come sparingly and are more often than not overshadowed by the rest of the record’s ‘heard that, and I already know it’ll sound good’ sound. Considering the fact that the duo are genius musicians in their own respect, the record, almost cynically enough, displays the potential of the duo to create something ground-breaking, but instead they took the road most travelled. Whatever the motive or direction it is that the duo chose for this album, at the moment it dwells in the space of ‘the masses are going to love it’ or ‘people are just not paying attention to it.’

Buy Culture Code Landscape by Adi & Suhail on OK Listen.

Stream a video of 'Naina' by Adi & Suhail below:

 

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