For all the calming, balm-like work it will do on your soul, Tajdar Junaid's What Colour is Your Raindrop is actually asking for trouble, or worse, obscurity. With filter-based photo apps putting the manufacturing of nostalgia in all its washed-out glory at the user's instant disposal, its artwork could easily fail to make an impression; it could be anyone's Instagram or Hipstamatic. Most of its music is instrumental, with sound palettes often square in the middle of Gustavo Santaolalla or Jon Brion territory, which might make the listener miss the movie that's meant to go with it. Its borderline-sophomoric title seems to be matched in naïveté only by its creator's stubborn refusal to pick a moniker, choosing instead to go with the name on his birth certificate. Who does that anymore?
The only problem with deploying here the little cynicisms we often adopt to sift the listenable from all that is at our disposal in today's time, is that the tunes on WCiYR are beautiful, often heartbreakingly so. They're infused with a rare, meditative vulnerability that seems like it was hard-won from the clutches of everyday garden-variety melancholia. The smart production choices (also the artist's doing) complement this setting perfectly. The sound is crystal clear; no pluck of string, no pump of bellow is concealed. Voices too, wherever they appear, are largely not affected in delivery or tampered with in production. Taj's naturally wounded timbre carries the opener ('Though I Know') most effectively, just as a folksy chorus's full-tilt take does on sing-along 'Ekta Golpo', a cover of a song adapted from a Brecht text. Some stunning details need special mention: the slide work and swelling guitar plucks on 'Aisle' (the latter reminiscent of 'Spiritual' from Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny's exceptional Beyond the Missouri Sky), the ephemeral bass-percussion outro thump on 'Dastaan' (the standout instrumental here, alongside 'Prelude to Poland'), the ease with which a double-mandolin Gaelic folk attack fuses seamlessly with a Bengali song ('Ekta Golpo') and the generous but ever-tasteful use of the sarangi throughout, the ideal voice this largely voiceless outing could hope for.
Barring a couple of slightly chipped toenails (the vaguely Travis-ish and slightly overcrowded 'Mockingbird', featuring the voice of Greg Johnson and the somewhat surprisingly rocked-out 'Yadon Ki Pari', which does little justice to the nuance of this record), it is an otherwise-perfect set of ten. Needs to be heard, re-heard, learned from and pushed by musicians and listeners all over this country.
Stream songs from What Colour Is Your Raindrop and more music by Tajdar Junaid here:
Previous ArticleSiddharth Basrur - Chasing Rain - Chapter Two
Next ArticleAmyt Datta - Ambiance de Danse