You can buy the album here. Full credits at the end.
Composer-pianist Anil Srinivasan features quite a few guest artists in his seven song album Touch, and Morning Mist is the only track which has the man going solo. The man does that with aplomb, bringing raga sarasangi to life on the piano with some amazing improvisations over the seven minutes (nearly). The dark mood of the raga, combined with the heavy tone of the instrument, gives the song a particularly majestic sound. Bassist Naveen Napier joins Anil in Waltz For Sharik, a piece guest-composed by another pianist-composer Sharik Hasan that is clearly reflective of Sharik’s jazz sensibilities. After a long prelude that features solos from both musicians (yes, there is a bass solo!) the song settles into an unhurried waltz, keeping with the title. Lovely composition, neat execution – one of my favourite moments happened towards the end where the bass once again comes forth from the backdrop in a fascinating exchange with the piano. The combination of Rakesh Chaurasia’s flute and Vedanth Bharadwaj’s banjo at the start of Vaishnav Jana To took me back to the instrumental version of ARR’s Jashn-e-Bahara from Jodha Akbar. The adaptation is beautiful, Rakesh building on the original with some fine improvs with Anil in tow, while Vedanth provides the constant base.
After moving from carnatic to waltz to bhajan, Anil picks up bossa nova with Reflections, a song that chugs along pleasantly on the piano, bass (Naveen) and percussion (Allwyn Paul). Anil later develops the song into something akin to his midnight doodle series on soundcloud, incorporating some film score-ish refrains possibly as a tribute to composers of yore (there is one that sounds quite like the opening line of this; thanks to @kitha_n for spotting this). The album’s surprise track is Streets of Madras; the last thing I expected to hear as a piano solo piece was a kuthu song! A very interesting listen too as it turns out, Anil’s staccato notes sitting very well on Krishna Kishor’s folk percussion. The album’s longest track – one of my favourites from the album – is the composer’s adaptation of the Muthuswami Dikshithar composition Annapurne Vishalakshi set to the tranquiliser of a raga that is sama. And here the guest artist is a long-time collaborator of Anil, U Rajesh aka Mandolin Rajesh. The two musicians go the good old fusion way for this one (on a related note, here is a pure Carnatic rendition of the song by U Rajesh with his brother the legendary U Srinivas; thanks to @krtgrphr for the link) – Rajesh playing the original composition the Carnatic way while Anil backs him western style. Travancore Blues is the only track of the album that doesn’t quite work for me; the composer’s bluesy makeover of Swathi Thirunaal’s thillana based in raga dhanashree along with American guitarist Randy Bernsen. The way Randy moves away from the opening lines of the Carnatic piece in particular struck a discordant note with me.
Touch is a wonderful album from Anil Srinivasan which has him present his adeptness at diverse genres.
Top Recos: Morning Mist, Annapurne, Waltz for Sharik, Streets of Madras
Performer : Anil Srinivasan
Guest Artistes : Randy Bernsen, Rakesh Chaurasia, U Rajesh, Naveen Napier, Allwyn Jeyapaul, Vedanth Bharadwaj, Krishna Kishor
Sound Design : Vedanth Bharadwaj, Sa.Ma Studios
Mixing and Mastering : Navneeth Balachandran
Cover Photograph : Bhargavii Mani
Produced by : Anil Srinivasan, Raju Rajamani
- Waltz for Sharik (Composed : Sharik Hasan| Arranged and Performed : Anil Srinivasan and Naveen Napier)
- Vaishnava Janato (Composed : Narsi Mehta | Arranged and Performed : Anil Srinivasan, Rakesh Chaurasia (flute), Vedanth Bharadwaj (banjo))
- Reflections (Composed and Arranged : Anil Srinivasan| Performed By : Anil Srinivasan, Naveen Napier, Allwyn Jeyapaul)
- Annapoorne (Traditional (Muthuswami Dikshitar)| Arranged and Performed By : Anil Srinivasan and U Rajesh (mandolin))
- Travancore Blues (Traditional (Swati Tirunal)| Arranged and Performed By : Anil Srinivasan and Randy Bernsen (Guitar))
- Streets of Madras (Composed and Arranged By : Anil Srinivasan| Performed By : Anil Srinivasan, Krishna Kishor)
- Morning Mist (Composed and Performed By : Anil Srinivasan)