In our part of the world, Sharaab is wine or an intoxicant. In this part of the world Sharaab is a skillful deejay, guru of tablatronica who brings the east and the west together, and comes up with a delightful confection called Infusion.
Atlanta-based Sharaab, or Saurab Bose is the latest of tablatronica masters based in the United States to release an album, following on the heels of Brown Sounds debut EP and Karsh Kale’s two albums. I have been familiar with his music for a really long time, and have been a big fan of his work on steel wheels.
The self-released album is a labor of love for Bose, who has been a long time friend of ours. He has toiled almost anonymously and often in email and IM exchanges had hinted that he was ready to give-up. I am glad he did not because he is a talented musician who needs all the encouragement. In many ways the release of this album is a win for every single tablatronic who comes to our site. Yeah Sharaab is all I can say!
Having said that, there are few issues with the album I have, mostly about the overall nature of the album. Sharaab is so talented that he should be more organic in his music, and less electronic. I think like several other new comers, Bose has fallen prey to taking a musical cue from the likes of two over hyped musicians, Karsh Kale and Talvin Singh. I think youngsters like Bose should look at Nitin Sawhney and Midival Punditz as source of inspiration. However these minor quibbles aside, I found the album Infusion to be a delight and has not come-off my CD player from the day I received it via US Mail.
The album opens with Bidrohi, which is a classic straight-up drum-and-bass track reminiscent of some of the better works of Asian Dub Foundation. The tempo picks up in Test Patterns and Dronah, but I am not a big fan of these tracks. However, once you are past these songs, the album just flourishes and comes into its own.
Lets now focus on the highlights of the album: tracks EarthandSky, Firewater, Sanyasi and Future Roots are infections and highly likeable blend of eastern chants, sarangi and other classical Indian instruments with the pounding drum-and-bass beats. The greatest thing about this album is how Sharaab has brought in a whole range of Indian elements – from Rajasthan to Bengal to even Punjab – into this delightful blend. For that reason alone, I think this album is worth the price.
There is this horrible wonk on Future Roots which is a wee bit annoying, but easily overlooked. And then you get to Origin Eight, Infusion and a brownsploitation mix of Birdrohi. After repeatedly listening to this album I have come to a conclusion – as the album progresses, one gets a feeling that Sharaab is getting comfortable in his own sound. I think he should explore that and perhaps be less influenced by the like of Karsh Kale. In my opinion, he is better than those he is impressed by and should get more confident in how own sound. I can hardly wait for his next album; for I know he will blow the woofer off my stereo system. As an aside, I think Sharaab really shines when the beat count drops below 100, and perhaps his next album should be a chill-out album.
– om malik