Nitin Sawhney :: Human
[v2]   review from shree  

"...isn't human life the same value everywhere? Is racism now so global that it's beyond challenge?" Bono himself would be proud.

Six albums into his career and Nitin Sawhney can still do no wrong. That is, if you overlook the copious attempts at political commentary, which only tend to bog down what is remarkable talent. Frankly, how many times do we need to hear MLK's "I have a dream" speech? Sound bites aside, while many 'fusion' artists tend to get stuck in the same old rut trying to deliver us the next fresh sounds, this man has time and again shown us what consistency is all about.

A selective insight into what is probably the album of the year: "The River" :: Nitin's last two releases began with exceptional r&b tinged numbers and although this particular one is not a favorite of mine, it does set the mood and stage for the rest of the album. Using the Ganges as a metaphor for the cycle of life and death (a recurring motif through most of the album), this is a chilled display of wistful vocals and almost country-influenced acoustic guitar. "Eastern Eyes" :: A real groover, this one. Fresh off the success of one of the most brilliant releases of the past year, The Streets' Original Pirate Material, is Kevin Mark Trail, featured here along with the incomparable Natacha Atlas. The latin inflected beat defies you to sit still.

"Say Hello" :: Sultry sonic minimalism by way of slide guitars and strings; things get brought down a notch and flows smoothly into... "Falling Angels" :: Based on recurring dreams Sawhney had while growing up; this is atmospheric Asian music at its best; would not be out of place on the next Café del Mar installment. Light synth stabs complement the tinkling keyboards and the most sublime of voices perfectly. "Falling" :: This has crossover hit written all over it. Matt Hales, of relatively unknown Aqualung makes an appearance, backed by a full orchestra.

"Heer" :: A track which will be on every South Asian electronica mix tape that I make from now on, this is classical Indian poetry, done in a 21st century stylee. The last time I was this enthusiastic about a raaga was on hearing "Fabric" by a certain Delhi based duo. "Waiting (O Mistress Mine)" :: Zubin Varla, veteran of the British stage lends his pipes to this relaxed, Shakespeare-inspired trip-hop groove. Take my word for it, the bard never sounded so chic.

"Raag" :: Ibiza meets Kolkata (courtesy, the flute stylings of Ronu Majumdar) in this, Sawhney's housiest moment to date. Although globally inclined downtempo will probably always be his forté, "Raag" proves he can do four-to-the-floor with the best of 'em.

Soon to be the latest soundtrack at your favorite trendy bar, Human is Nitin Sawhney's most introspective album to date; one that has undoubtedly raised the benchmark for ethnic-chill.

ethnotechno rating: 4 out of 5
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  1. River
  2. Eastern Eyes (Ft Natacha Atlas)
  3. Say Hello
  4. Falling Angels (pick)
  5. Falling (Ft Aqualung)
  6. Heer (pick)
  7. Fragile Wind
  8. Promise
  9. Chetan Jeevan (Conscious Life) (pick)
  10. Rainfall (pick)
  11. Waiting (O Mistress Mine)
  12. Raag (pick)
  13. Boatman