UK-based composer Nitin Sawhney moves away from his soundscapes for a more lyrically powerful album in London Undersound. Fuelled by the 2005 London blasts and the Jean Charles de Menezes shootout, Sawhney’s eight-studio album has its star attractions – Paul McCartney, Anoushka Shankar, the Grammy-winning Ojus de Brujo and Imogen Heap but Sawhney sets the tone for the album with the opener – ”˜Days of Fire’. The track that begins with the sound of the tube rail sliding to a halt rides on Natty’s gritty vocals and catchy rhythm section. Heap’s loungy, sultry ”˜Bring It Home’ about a scorned lover who sings ”˜I say f*%$ you f*%$ you f*%$ you in my head’ will keep coming back to you after one listen.
Snagging McCartney’s ”˜My Soul,’ a post-divorce bare-all, is a stunning achievement but old-time Sawhney collaborator Reena Bharadwaj’s alaaps grate on your ears and the fusion is so late Eighties. Shankar’s ”˜Charu Keshi Rain’ that displays her wildfire sitar skills could be out of anyone of her albums and this is where we expect Sawhney to weave his stunning tapestries, but that wasn’t to be.
Though one of the most exciting discoveries on the album has got to be Lahore-based singer Faheem Mazhar who features on a short but explosive track named ”˜Daybreak,’ where Mazhar does little beyond Indian classical harkats – but what a voice. Mazhar shows the promise of a Nusrat with a spark of something else. This is a man we want to hear more of and Sawhney, as always, spots these stars early.