FluteTronics – Music Review (Carnatic Fusion Album)

flutetronics poster

You can download the album here.

There are two tracks in FluteTronics that take on a sequel mode. Naveen Kumar improvises on the title song from the previous album in Café Fluid Reprise, seemingly shifting between ragas shanmughapriya and keeravani. Where the song doesn’t work as much as its predecessor though, is in that Naveen replaces the Arabic arrangement with a not-so-engaging electronic one. Even Blaaze’s rap doesn’t add much value to the piece. Naveen nails the other reprise piece though, The Bellyflute Plays On. Once again the Arabic orchestration in the original is done away with, but is taken over by a fabulous Latino guitar-led template. And that proves to be quite a combination with Naveen’s flute-play.

Longing may be marking the debut of Naveen Kumar’s son Jean Naveen as vocalist, but the song belongs to the flautist and B Shree Sundar Kumar’s percussion (kanjira and mridangam in this case). And binding everything together is Karsh Kale’s awesome-as-always production. Karsh is involved in two more tracks. Space Out has Naveen exploring the raga sindhubhairavi to a Middle Eastern setting, amidst Jonita Gandhi’s narrative (and occasional humming. This is the same Jonita Gandhi who sang this by the way). But for the mildly classical-flavored guitar prelude, Levon Ichkanian’s role is fairly minimal, but Sundar Kumar once again puts forth an impressive display of his kanjira skills. Karsh Kale’s influence is most evident in the aptly titled Karsh Palace – Naveen and Kalyana Sundaram (violin) complementing each other very well even as the producer provides a trippy techno-based backdrop.

The Middle East obsession that Naveen had made evident in Café Fluid continues unabated in FluteTronics too. After three songs already carrying that flavor, RnB Fusion has a similar setting and this time it is Sanjay Divechha who delivers a stunner even in what would just qualify as a short preview of his famed guitar skills (youtube him if you are yet to hear the man). Way To Haj traverses familiar Arabic routes and at times borders on tedium, but is saved by some amazing programming work from Reeg Deb. The final song Mountain Bird is Naveen’s show all the way as he presents a buoyant yet beautifully nuanced flute solo (hints of raga mohanam, I thought).  The Sikkimese flavor that the song is supposed to reflect (as per album description) exists only in the prelude though, the actual song seems more Celtic in nature.

FluteTronics. Naveen Kumar delivers yet another engaging album, this time with Karsh Kale.

Top Recos: Mountain Bird, RnB Fusion, Karsh Palace, The Bellyflute Plays On

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