Indosoul by Karthick Iyer Live – Music Review (Carnatic Fusion Album)

karthick iyer - indosoul posterSong links and full musician credits at the end of the review.

In a sort of irony to its title, Boundless is the shortest track of Karthick Iyer Live’s debut album Indosoul. But in its just-under-three-minute duration, the song packs more punch than any of the other tracks. And a large part of the song pretty much revolves around the Sumesh Narayanan’s frenzied mridangam solos – it is only in the last one minute that multiple layers of Karthick Iyer’s shanmughapriya raga based violin phrases and Ramkumar Kanakarajan’s drums converge with the mridangam in a climactic finish. A Clown’s Junket, one of the band’s earlier songs (they first performed this on IndiEarth Out There I believe), gets a tidy makeover for the album. And the song is as appealing as it was in its original form, pleasant and laidback, Karthick’s violin leading from the front. The only grouse: the long prelude that takes up over a third of the song and almost drives you to impatience (especially for me since I already knew what the actual song starts like). The charm of Mid-Air lies in that raga harikambodhi-ish violin hook that kicks off the song on a high and reappears throughout. The arrangement otherwise is characteristic of the band, mild and likeable melange of Carnatic and western styles, highlighted by the second interlude’s Carnatic style duel conversation between Vikram Vivekanand’s electric guitar and Ramkumar’s drums on one side and Karthick’s violin and Sumesh’s mridangam on the other.

Rejoicing in Raghuvamsa is the only song in the album that doesn’t make much of an impression. It could be that I have heard too many fusion-based covers of this song, but even otherwise Karthick’s violin doesn’t as on point as it usually does, and nothing particularly stands out in the arrangement except that tempo shift halfway through. The inherent gaiety of the famous kadanakuthuhalam raga based piece (composed originally by Patnam Subramanya Iyer) does however impart the song some entertainment value. As its title indicates, A Saranga Convergence has Karthick Iyer exploring the raga saranga in an engaging, fast-paced composition amidst Vikram’s electric solos, Naveen Napier’s trippy bassline and Sumesh’s konnakol (vocal percussion notes). At The Theatres is the album’s only vocal track, and the best of the lot. I am generally prefer Karthick Iyer the violinist to Karthick Iyer the vocalist, but his style works really well in this one. It is the structure of the song however that makes it a winner. Karthick’s own lyrics narrate the experience of watching a play – the lead-up to the actual play has a likeable acoustic guitar-led folk pop base, and as the play begins and the narrator hushes everyone into silence, the lines shift to Tamil from English and the classical elements start showing. The segment ends in a blazing abheri raga solo from Karthick with Allwyn Paul on percussion, before the song returns to the mode it started on.

Indosoul. Impressive debut album from Karthick Iyer Live that, like the band’s name, is a lot about Karthick Iyer’s individual prowess as a musician.

Top Recos: At The Theatres, Boundless, A Saranga Convergence

  1. Boundless 2:49
  2. A Clown’s Junket 4:21
  3. Mid-Air 5:55
  4. At the theatres 5:35
  5. A Saranga convergence 6:31
  6. Rejoicing in Raghuvamsa 4:48

Performed by Karthick Iyer(Violin & vocals), Vikram Vivekanand(Guitars), Sumesh Narayanan(Mridangam, Konnakol, Percussion), Naveen Napier(Bass), Ramkumar Kanakarajan(Drums), Allwyn Paul(Percussion for 4)

Produced by Karthick Iyer

Music & lyrics by Karthick Iyer(except 6)

Arranged by Karthick Iyer

Additional arrangements by Vikram Vivekanand, Sumesh Narayanan, Naveen Napier, Ramkumar Kanakarajan

Rejoicing in Raghuvamsa composed by Patnam Subramania Iyer


Recorded by Biju James at VGP Studios, Chennai (All songs except 4)

4 recorded by Bob Phukan at Aura Studios

1,2,3 violins recorded by Sumesh Narayanan at SoundLoft Studios

Mixed by Bob Phukan(2,3,4,6) and Biju James(1, 5)

Mastered by Andy Bartow

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