Grounded in Space
Key Tracks: ‘Miliha,’ ‘Gates of Dawn’
Perhaps it’s the downside of running an eight-member outfit where everyone is a songwriter, but Grounded in Space sometimes sounds like a thinly edited jam between its two vocalists (Ujwal Nagar on Hindustani and Chayan Adhikari on Western) and six instrumentalists (guitar, bass, tabla, sarangi, drums, keyboard); not short on melody, yet a little stretched to find that melodic centre. Having said that, there’s a bunch of truly outstanding numbers here that well showcase the highs this talented band is capable of. ”˜Miliha’ (with its instantly sticky sarangi/guitar riff and progression), ”˜Gates of Dawn’ (rousing electro-grunge fusion, one of their earliest songs and featuring a vocal performance by ex-Them Clone Ravi Singh) and the traditional-based ”˜Durga’ (an uplifting dance track vamping spryly behind the joyous vocal/sarangi interplay) all favour the song over democracy, the message over the means. But self-censoring issues or not, it’s hard to downplay the sheer doggedness behind this debut effort. (Some of the songs here have been waiting to find a home for close to six years.) Grounded was recorded at Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai and mastered in London and the effort tells on the squeaky clean production, which complements the demands of the genre suitably. I really wish, now that EMI has acquiesced to a local outfit, Advaita will go further out on a limb and make the difficult choices on their next effort. As shown by their tenacity and the musicianship on this album (especially young Nagar’s standout range and rich intonation, Suhail Yusuf Khan’s fervid sarangi work, the funk syncopations of bassist Gaurav Chintamani and Bose’s spacey fills), they certainly have the head, and a lot of heart for it.