Navdeep :: Yaathra
[anamika records]   review from maulik  

From start to finish, Yaathra takes the listener on a transglobal journey, mixing South Asian beats, hip-hop turntablism, and Navdeep's trademark trip-hop meets DnB sound. This full-length release contains 12 tracks and features vocalists Bikram Singh, Ajay Naidu, Manjit, Avir Mitra, and Marie-Amelie Poisson. I was most impressed by the diversity of down-tempo and DnB tracks on this album.

The opening track titled "Flight to Amritsar" introduces sounds from the streets of India and New York. This is followed by a series of gritty hip-hop tracks that set the stage for the climax. "Four Corners" begins with a simple and catchy guitar loop that is progressively filled with various percussion elements. Although several hip-hop tracks are comprised of simple tabla loops and female vocals, each idea is developed with a different vision and artistic craft. I enjoyed the way Navdeep incorporated simple hand-drum strokes into the backbone of his beats, whether the tabla was used to set up bass drops or pitched differently to generate a particular effect ("Promised Land").

The climax of the album commences with "Technology," an up-tempo track that combines cutting edge break beats with sitar, tabla, and vocal sounds. The strength of this track lies in its development and breakdown, which highlight various rhythmic pockets. A powerful yet refined female voice adds the finishing touches on this high-energy track. "Technology" is followed by "My Technique." which begins with a traditional Bhangra beat that is cleverly faded into a mellow hip-hop groove. Together, "Technology" and "My Technique" encompass the hip-hop and DnB elements that characterize Navdeep's sound.

"Promised Land" marks the end of the climax. This hard rock groove is strikingly different from the previous tracks in terms of its lyrical content and flow. It begins with a short clip from President Bush, followed by a powerful up-tempo guitar piece. The raw emotion in this track takes it to the next level. "Promised Land" goes straight into the next track: "September 12th". This documentary focuses on the events following September 11th and will most certainly take you back in time. The album ends with a semi-classical piece titled "Jogi," which gives listeners a chance to reflect on the journey they just completed.

Overall, I thought this album was strong both conceptually and musically: 4.5 stars. For those who have seen Navdeep spin live, I think you'll enjoy the down-tempo tracks on this album as well as his previous hits "Bluestar" and "Amrit." For those who haven't...prepare to be utterly mesmerized.

ethnotechno rating: 4.5 out of 5
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  1. flight to amritsar
  2. way i feel
  3. amrit (salvation) (pick)
  4. four corners (interlude)
  5. technology (pick)
  6. my technique
  7. promised land (pick)
  8. september 12th
  9. air never seen
  10. bluestar (pick)
  11. immigrance
  12. jogi (pick)