When three is a party
Ali brothers Amaan and Ayaan, along with composer Karsh Kale, on blending classical music with electronic tunes in their seven-track album, Infinity
Lending an electronic flavour to the classical album Infinity, music producer Karsh Kale hopes to have created an inroad for listeners who consider classical music "too highbrow" for their sensibilities. On offer in the seven-track album — that has Kale give wings to the vision of Ali brothers, Ayaan and Amaan — is a distinctive play on the sarod. "There are five different dimensions to the instrument in this album," says Amaan, adding, "In one place, it is distorted, in another, it is metallic. It is also rustic in one track, and raw in yet another," he says, as brother Ayaan adds that their latest collaboration is hence likely to appeal to consumers of classical as well as electronic music.
Even as father and sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan agrees that the trio has successfully reinvented the way the instrument can sound, he is particularly pleased with the manner in which the two genres have been amalgamated. "Fusion experiments have been around for long. But not all of them are appealing. Often, fusions can be total confusions. But, in this album, every track has a different dimension and message. My sons are constantly trying to do something that I haven't done before," says the proud father, who has also lent his vocals — a first for him for an electronic album — for the finale song, Journeymen.
It was in 2015 that the Ali brothers had met Kale at a music festival in UK, and have collaborated with him for live gigs, ever since. "We had wanted to work on an album ever since, and had been creating songs for this collection for the last three years. Apart from the fact that Amaan and I had last worked on an electronic album 15 years ago, and were hence happy to return to the genre, we also knew that Karsh is someone who is followed by lovers of the genre. We also have interesting collaborations in two artistes from Shadow And Light, including Pavitra Chari and Anindo Bose. They were recommended by Karsh," says Ayaan.
Juggling projects on Indian and international shores, Kale suggests he takes on a project after running through a checklist. He likes storytellers, two of whom he found in the Ali brothers. "I've seen them perform with their father in New York when they were teenagers. When we decided to collaborate for this album, they gave me raw palettes to work with, and let me do my own thing. Then, I recomposed their stories, because that's what I do best. I work with people when I know we can weave a story together. Either there are characters that I like to play with, or I simply want to help storytellers narrate what they wish to. The voice of this album is the sarod. I felt like a director to a film that had Ayaan and Amaan as the stars," says the composer.
Amjad Ali Khan
Kale also enjoys working on projects that, quite simply, are "up my alley". His last Bollywood offering, Gully Boy, for instance, was exactly that. He doesn't give his nod to commercial cinema easily, because "it's just not something I do". He is, however, quick to add that Bollywood is not a genre, and he is always happy to step in when it requires the kind of music he can create. An upcoming project with Anurag Kashyap, for instance, stole his heart owing to its script. "Also, Anurag is an artiste, and hence understands that artistes need their space. He appreciates the fact that I have a process, and lets me work accordingly."
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