Achint Turns to Rajasthani Folk Fusion with The Khan Brothers
The Mumbai composer-guitarist on finding his “moment of clarity” with vocalists Bhutta Khan and Multan Khan
It’s one thing to be enamored by the enchanting strength of Rajasthani folk, but it’s an entirely different matter when you want to incorporate it in your own sound. Mumbai composer-guitarist Achint Thakkar took about three years after first recording vocalists Bhutta Khan and Multan Khan in a hotel room in Jaipur to arrive at the sound of his new collaborative album Achint & The Khan Brothers.
Thakkar, who released his debut album Shalimar in 2015, was now putting someone else at the front of his world music/fusion-informed sound and they were musicians who have toured the world as part of Rajasthani music production the Manganiyar Seduction, singing songs that are at least 500 years old. Thakkar says, “I had to leave them free and then just find my way there. I couldn’t tell them what to do or tell them to come into what I’m doing.” Unlike the cinematic, production-centric sound of Shalimar, Thakkar says he realized the “less is more” lesson while recording with the Khan Brothers.
Last year at Mumbai sound engineer (and alt band BLEK’s frontman) Rishi Bradoo’s Theatre 74 studio, Thakkar called over Bhutta and Multan Khan for a recording session. In an unexpected move, while shooting for a promo video, the trio jammed on what became their lead single “Railgaadi.” Thakkar recalls, “You just keep the mic rolling for hours and jam.The only way I could work around was to let them loose and just jam and then analyze later. After that, I heard everything and called them back a few months later with more clarity of what I wanted and where it should go.”
The eight-track Achint & The Khan Brothers also features the likes of violinist Ajay Jayanthi and bassist Shalom Benjamin (from alt/punk band The Lightyears Explode), roaming into new sonic territories over a powerful, enveloping vocal section. From the thumping grooves of “Hichki” to the funk of “Saavan Mod Muhara” to a familiar cinematic treatment on “Amma,” Thakkar does finally arrive at the cohesiveness he wants, building a bridge across deserts.
Up next, a tour is in the works across India, but Thakkar is keen on taking the set overseas as well, for the popularity of Rajasthani folk. “That would be cool for this music,” he says.
Listen to ‘Achint & The Khan Brothers’ below.