Shadowlines: Flux – Music Review (Fusion Album)

shadownlines flux poster

You can buy the album here. Some of the song videos at the end, if you would like a sampler before you buy.

Suroj Sureshbabu’s practised Spanish guitaring kickstarts London band FLUX’s debut album Shadowlines, in its opening song Night Tide, before the rest of his bandmates join in. Anyone who has heard flautist Shammi Pithia’s 2014 album COSMIC (you can read our review and listen to the songs here if you haven’t) would notice a similarity in the general sound that Shadowlines has with it. A primary reason for that is the overlap in the associated musicians. The lead members of Flux – Shammi, Suroj, Preetha Narayanan and Michael Goodey – and even most of the other musicians on the album, were all part of COSMIC as well. Like COSMIC, Shadowlines too is a predominantly instrumental album, featuring just three vocal tracks – albeit three splendidly executed ones. Sundown has a minimal setting, just Michael’s piano for most part, letting singer Sabiyha take centre-stage, with some amazing variations in her rendition. The other two vocal pieces feature singer Tanya Wells, whom you might have come across in a viral facebook video a few weeks back where she was singing a Faiz poem. In Simple Joys she gets to flaunt some of those Indian classical rendition skills, in smart segues from her largely Western singing, all to a haunting backdrop highlighted by Michael’s piano. Tanya is in top form in Tears of Dust as well, one of the more elaborately orchestrated compositions (in that it features a strings section that has, apart from Preetha, Fuensanta Zambrana Ruis on second violin and Tara Franks on cello, and Mathis Richet on drums) and also one of the more dramatic ones, gradually progressing towards a crescendo.

The title song is among my favourite tracks of the album, largely for its haunting pensive tune and its equally imaginative treatment, but also for the way it showcases the four band members (and Hannah Turnball on double bass) – especially around the faster segments where everything comes together in a rousing fashion. Red Shift too has some amazing display from the foursome, though Shammi and Preetha’s solos are the highlight of the piece. Lasting under three minutes, Closer is another track that is quite pleasing, for its nostalgia-inducing melody and a warm treatment by the musicians. Hush doesn’t come off as silent as the title implies, is a winsome composition all the same, led by Shammi’s pathos-laden bansuri phrases (thought I sensed loose strains of raag darbari at times). String Theory understandably has Preetha leading the proceedings with her intricate violin riffs (accompanied by Shammi on occasion), punctuated by Suroj’s frenetic guitar interludes. Horizon is the least immersive track of the album due to its frenzied and pacy nature, but the interplay between the spiralling instrument sounds does make for a compelling listen.

Two years after his debut album COSMIC, flautist-composer Shammi Pithia continues his promising run, this time with his second band FLUX.

Top Recos: Sundown, Shadowlines, Simple Joys, Closer

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