Friday 26 July 2019

Sarathy Korwar - More Arriving

“This is not necessarily a record of unity,” asserts the press release for Sarathy Korwar’s new album, More Arriving, “it’s an honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in a divided Britain”. The distinction is thought-provoking. Korwar has never been interested in conforming to a template of what it means to be an Indian in Britain, or, perhaps more to the point, of what it means to make 'western' music that attempts to give a "tokenistic nod to the ‘east’ or Africa" in a way that is ultimately lazy and reductive. Instead, this is an album featuring a plurality of voices from within India – including Prabh Deep, MC Mawali, and others – and from the diaspora – including London-based Zia Ahmed, and American singer Aditya Prakash. Still heavily influenced by his Indian background and culture, this record is nobody’s “world music”. This isn’t “fusion" - it’s a modern album – a very good one – that exhibits many of the jazz and electronic influences that were more central on his last album, Day to Day, while at the same time turning more deliberately towards hip-hop. 

Korwar says of the album, “this is what Indian music sounds like to me right now.” And as an inference from that conviction, particularly in light of the tense racial backdrop of Brexit, Korwar seems to be telling us: Indians are in Britain, they are a part of Britain, and not only must you ‘get used to’ that fact, you should also be aware that there are More Arriving. The missive is openly confrontational, but it is also a declaration of, if not unity, at least solidarity with and celebration of difference.

My favorite track is Mumbay (feat. MC Malawi). While I can’t understand the lyrics, I have listened again and again, drawn into the staccato flow of MC Malawi (delivered in Hindi), and by the catchy interplay of the choppy saxophone hooks, with an energetic drum kit that sounds like Brad Wilks fresh from a semester at the New School’s jazz conservatory.

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