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Exclusive Release: Raastha’s Stirring Fusion Sojourn on ‘Rooh’

The pan-Indian band’s debut single also features drummer Marco Minnemann of The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani and more

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Nabeela Shaikh Sep 16, 2016
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Fusion band Raastha collaborate with drummer Marco Minnemann (third from left) on "Rooh." Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Fusion band Raastha collaborate with drummer Marco Minnemann (third from left) on “Rooh.” Photo: Courtesy of the artist

When filmmaker Sanket Kalekar was conceptualizing the video for pan-Indian fusion project Raastha’s latest single “Rooh,” he came up with a screenplay that””despite not knowing the concept””perfectly aligned with the meaning of the song. Says Raastha keyboardist and composer Dinesh Kumar, who composed the Tamil track, “Sanket didn’t know the language or what the lyrics meant, but I guess the music spoke. It so happened that whatever storyboard he narrated [for the video] went completely in sync with the song. Even now, he doesn’t know what the lyrics mean!”

The 11-minute video is more or less a short film that follows the journey of an idealist who daydreams and falters but finds happiness by accident, becoming a part of a dance production. Just like the protagonist’s ups and downs on film, “Rooh” also sonically undulates, featuring an evocative violin section by Chennai-based Shravan Sridhar (a former live member of electronic act Sapta).

But filmmaker Kalekar isn’t the only one who built on “Rooh” without knowing the meaning of the song. Drummer Marco Minnemann ”“ the most prominent name in the lineup ”“ contributes his signature virtuosity in spite of being far removed from the context of “Rooh.” In an interview with MetalWani, Minnemann””who performs with the likes of experimental/ jazz rock trio The Aristocrats (currently on their debut India tour), UK prog musician Steven Wilson and virtuoso guitarist Joe Satriani””said, “It has complexity, beauty; it’s very well done. That’s a thing””a good song, no matter how complex, always breathes and plays itself.”  And even as Minnemann complements the complexity of the track with boisterous jazz-leaning drum work, “Rooh” remains rooted in an odd-time signature fusion sound.

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Kumar, who has been composing music since his school days, put together Raastha in 2013, while studying mechanical engineering at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad. The project currently comprises vocalists Niranjana Ramanan and Shiva Kannan, violinist Sridhar, guitarist Vishnu Ramprasad and Kumar himself. When it came to picking a drummer, Kumar, who was heavily influenced by Minnemann’s playing on several records, decided to take a chance and reach out to him. Says Kumar, “It sounded like a crazy idea at that time, but I thought, ”˜Let’s give it a shot and try to contact him, no harm.’ Despite his busy schedule he took time out, I think that’s something quite rad.”

Watch “Rooh” below.

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