20 March 2007

Journeying via Autorickshaw (CD Review)

Autorickshaw: So The Journey Goes (self-released)




Our favorite Canadian-Indian-fusion group returns with a third album following their delightful Four Higher in 2004. This one opens with the title track, in which a rippling, funky bass line from Rich Brown is soon followed by Suba Sankaran's confident voice. She sings "I'm looking at the people / Who stare back at me / About to start the journey / of self-discovery." Listening to this album is indeed to witness the group's self-discovery and evolution, from the strong title track right through to "Nalina Kanthi," a piece commissioned from the singer's father, percussionist Trichy Sankaran. 


Along with original tunes, the album includes adaptations of Bengali and Tamil folk tunes, an effective 7-beat version of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire," and a Bollywood offering penned by the legendary RD Burman.
Concluding the album is something of an improvisation and editing experiment. A variety of guest artists were given "guide vocals," bass, and drums, and asked to play along. Sankaran and Ed hanley then spent a week weaving together the 64 raw tracks into the track "Heavy Traffic." 

While a comparison to the recent work of Susheela Raman seems inevitable, the music of Autorickshaw maintains more Indian roots and makes fewer forays toward pop and rock idioms. So the Journey Goes takes the listener to a bustling global train station, where Autorickshaw can guide you through the jostling mayhem.
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