TRT World’s Album of the Month for November is Indo-jazz drummer and composer Sarathy Korwar’s percussive odyssey ‘Kalak’, which muses over questions of time and identity.
Among the heavyweights of London’s burgeoning jazz scene, drummer and producer Sarathy Korwar is known for his remarkable, meticulous fusions of melody and rhythm inspired by a wide assortment of influences.
On his award-winning 2019 album More Arriving, the US-born, India-raised Korwar proved to be an engaging musical storyteller, fusing Indian hip-hop, classical Hindustani, jazz and electronics into a politically-charged missive that was both provocative and insightful.
One of Korwar’s aims is to engage in non-hierarchical approaches to both the creation of his music and the discourses around it – a tactic most apparent in his fourth full-length album, Kalak, to deftly muse on questions of time and identity.
Employing the double meaning of the word ‘kal’ in Hindi and Urdu (which is both “yesterday” and “tomorrow”), Kalak is an Indo-futurist manifesto that celebrates “a rich South Asian culture of music and literature, which resonates with spirituality and community, while envisaging a better future from those building blocks.”
The 11-track project delivers “invigorated musical whirlwinds, tracks buoyed by the inexorable rush of polyrhythm to challenge the power dynamics of musical arrangements, colonial mentalities and the artist-listener relationship,” writes Norman Records, which selected Kalak as their album of the week.
Filtered through electronic artist Photay’s atmospheric production, the album shifts through layered saxophone wails, rolling flute motifs, wavy synth melodies, hypnotic percussive loops and vocal chants.
From the rollicking brass line of lead single ‘Utopia Is A Colonial Project’, the polyrhythmic handclaps of ‘Remember Begum Rokheya’ (named after the prominent Indian feminist thinker), to the thematic centrepiece ‘That Clocks Don’t Tell But Make Time’, Korwar’s deep drumbeats create a mesmerising sonic space to envelop listeners.
And for an album concerned with dismantling hierarchies, the end of the record hardly feels like an end at all. ‘KALAK - A Means To An Unend’ closes the record out with a reading, in order, of the album’s thought-provoking track titles.