Beyond the Border: Five Must-Hear Artists from the Indian Subcontinent and Diaspora
Prog metal, soulful reggae, thrash and fusion from Takatak, The Soul, Eternal Armageddon, Red Baraat frontman Sunny Jain and Mughal-e-Funk
Following their stellar 2018 album Round & Around, Sri Lankan band The Soul – who have also visited India a few times over for appearances in Bengaluru and at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune last year – decided to surprise release their new album Enry Pete earlier this month. Just like Round & Around, The Soul are achingly beautiful amidst dense layers of guitar and percussion. The Colombo band are also equally about the groovy reggae vibes at different points, with soothing vocals from Dave F. Roberts. If you’re looking for an album that comforts you in your self-quarantine period, Enry Pete might just be your jam.
Previously featured in our series, the Pakistani progressive rock/metal band have seriously upped their game since their 2018 debut EP Out of Something. Following the release of their wrecking-ball tune “Fault Lines” earlier this year, Takatak channels a bit of British prog band TesseracT and Australian band Karnivool for frenetic energy on “The Whale.” With two vocalists, there’s ever-morphing rhythmic patterns unraveling in a gigantic way. Their connection to India for the two new singles – off their upcoming album Acrophase – comes in the form of producer-guitarist Keshav Dhar of Illusion Audio (who’s mixed the track) and visual artist and metal vocalist Gaurav Basu aka Acid Toad, who’s created the album art.
Also based in Lahore like Takatak, there’s something of an unmistakably feel-good funky, groovy combo in Mughal-e-Funk that we’re surprised we haven’t heard before. Seemingly informed by the likes of Snarky Puppy, Vulfpeck and Jacob Collier, the band – formed in 2015 – infuse it with enchanting sitar playing by Rakae Jamil. Taken from their debut EP Sultanat (which has each track named after a Mughal ruler), a new music video for their song “Akbar” is typically playful, showing with animated feudal figures running about historical structures.
Dhaka, Bangladesh’s black-thrash metal trio Eternal Armageddon prove why our neighbors to the east love their thrash metal. Their just-released new album In Light In Dark In Hate takes aim at what society justifies as divinity. A note from the band mentions, “The album sketches a dark, sacrilegious journey that defiles the filth and falsehood of religions, a journey that enlightens the soul and transports an individual to a different height of spirituality and intellectual freedom.” Running at breakneck speed across seven tracks, Eternal Armageddon is a forceful fist to the face of societal injustices.
A New York veteran and bandleader for dhol/big band act Red Baraat, Sunny Jain released his latest solo album Wild Wild East in February. It’s his first solo record in a decade and it balances two American identities – cowboys and immigrants. Featuring vocal excursions by the likes of Aditya Prakash, Alam Khan and Ganavya, Wild Wild East is a rousing record that is informed by Jain’s longstanding love for Bollywood, jazz, psychedelic rock and more recently, a bit of country western.