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Achint Launches Debut Solo Album ‘Shalimar’

The world music solo project of Achint Thakkar, formerly the frontman of psychedelic rock band Rosemary, includes everyone from rapper Blaaze to singer Neeti Mohan and more

Anurag Tagat Sep 09, 2015
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Achint. Photo: Omar Iyer

Achint. Photo: Omar Iyer

We counted up to two years since Mumbai-based composer-guitarist Achint Thakkar promised a 10-track album called Shalimar, his first release since his psychedelic rock band Rosemary called it quits in 2011. While he released a remix album of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Radiohead songs called Reinventions in 2013 and a few singles in between, Thakkar tells us he had a long wait in finding the right people for his album.

Thakkar recalls how he visited Chennai with the agenda of mixing tracks for Shalimar earlier this year with sound engineer P.A. Deepak, who regularly works with the likes of composers such as A.R. Rahman, and ended up waiting nearly three months in the city. Says Thakkar, “Rahman sir delayed some of his projects so I had to sit in the hotel and watch the cricket world cup. It wasn’t in Deepak’s hands, but once we got to it, we spent two weeks mixing.” The album was then shipped off to an even bigger name for mastering ”“ Christian Wright at UK’s Abbey Road Studios, who has worked with everyone from Coldplay to Radiohead to Mumford & Sons.

During his marathon mixing sessions with Deepak at Rahman’s AM Studio in Chennai, Thakkar met rapper Blaaze, and within 15 minutes of conversing, there were verses on “Impression,” which is also the music video Thakkar has just finished shooting for. On Deepak’s suggestion, Thakkar also recruited singer Neeti Mohan to add her vocals on “Komal.” The two tracks were written at a point when Thakkar began feeling much more confident about putting an album together, although his first solo composition for the album ”“ “Forest Fires” featuring Rahman’s long-time flautist Naveen Kumar ”“ was written in 2012.

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As far as chance meetings with recording artists go, Thakkar also met Rajasthani folk singers such as Bhutte Khan and Multan Khan at the World Sufi Spirit Festival in Jodhpur in 2014. Says Thakkar, “I bumped into them in the hotel and just asked them if they were up for singing, and I recorded them in their room. You can hear them throughout the album.”

In addition to being generally upbeat, electronic and throwing in instruments and elements from around the globe as world music is expected to do, Thakkar says the only thing he’s retained from his Rosemary days is his affinity for sonic experimentation. The guitarist adds, “With Rosemary, I was a kid in a candy store ”“ I would throw in everything. With Shalimar too, I was experimenting every day. There’s a lot of sound manipulation going on.”

While he says he turned down a lot of gig offers to concentrate on finishing the album, Achint has only gone live once in May 2014 in Mumbai, alongside drummer Viraaj Saxena and bassist Suraj Manik. With album contributors such as violinist Ajay Jayanthi [also part of rock band Anand Bhaskar Collective] featuring on “Exit Shalimar,” it’s no surprise to hear Thakkar say he’s thinking of expanding the live setup. Here’s hoping to a few launch gigs.

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Listen to Shalimar here.

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