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Premiere: Shubh Saran Navigates Culture Through Sound on Slick New Song ‘postradition’

The Indian-origin, New York composer will release his album ‘inglish’ on October 29th

Anurag Tagat Oct 01, 2021
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It was in February 2020 that New York composer and guitarist and jazz-fusion ace Shubh Saran released his EP Becoming, heading out for an India tour in March. When the pandemic kicked in, Saran and his band had to cancel their U.S. shows and it was “pretty overwhelming” to even get back into writing mode.

While concepts of cultural identity were already on Saran’s mind after continual research and reading, his upcoming album inglish (out October 29th) came together as he was writing new music. He says, “For how unsettling and difficult the pandemic was, it allowed for a great deal of time to confront the things I truly wanted to say.” The title refers to the dialect of sorts that is also called Indian English, with the album exploring the amalgamation of Indian and Western culture that’s visibly put forward by not just Indians but also the diaspora. “I wanted to find a metaphor for this idea of existing in the world where you’re trying to navigate a global culture while at the same navigating your own culture and home culture,” he says.

While it’s fair to assume there are questions of struggling to assimilate or “internal biases” among Indians and those of Indian origin, the first glimpse of inglish  — “postradition” – isn’t exactly intense or anguished as it is charismatic in its blend of Indian classical, jazz, rock, prog and more. “Postradition” features Mumbai-based flautist Rasika Shekar – who worked remotely with Saran – plus drummers Josh Bailey and Angelo Spampinato, who recorded at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn in November 2020. Saran says about Shekar’s involvement, “She sent me back these two beautiful bansuri interludes which added so much depth to the recording.”

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Saran adds about the production process, “They [Bailey and Spampinato] both played along to my production and demo-ed keys, sax and scratch guitar. The keys and synths by Christian Li and bass by Julia Adamy were recorded remotely in their respective home studio setups. Most of the saxophones were recorded at my home studio setup in Brooklyn along with the rest of the synth production, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and banjo.”

With live performances being part of Saran’s life again, he does say it was “jarring” to get back to it, similar to what it was like in March last year to press pause on everything he was used to as touring musician. He says, “I found that I had forgotten how to be an always-on-the-go musician. It’s been an adjustment but this time there’s definitely a sense of impermanence about the whole thing and a heightened gratitude each time I get to play with other people.”

Saran has also called on musicians such as Sunny Jain, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Pavithra Chari, Annette Philip, Sarathy Korwar and more for a three-episode podcast centered around the themes of inglish, with the first one out on September 27th. “We also have a US album release tour coming up in November,” Saran adds.

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Listen to “postradition” below.

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