Earlier this week, LA-based and Mumbai-born composer Ameya Saraf released his ten-track album titled Bend Or Break. The album is unique for the artist not because just it’s his debut effort but also because it serves as an accompanying soundtrack to a documentary of the same name.
The documentary Bend Or Break chronicles the journey of Mitch Martow (on whose memoir the film is based) as he comes to terms with and overcomes his EDS condition. EDS aka Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a disorder that affects the body’s connective tissues, leading to symptoms like fragile tissues and joint hypermobility (making their joints stretch further than normal). If one is to judge Saraf’s compositions independently from the film, the album still works in building a certain atmospheric blend of tension and hope.
The opening track brims with an eerie tone as it sets the serious mood of its source material. This is then followed by the titular track Bend or Break that benefits greatly from a bleak and almost-dreamy piano melody. This is then contrasted with dramatic violins gracing the composition called Turning Point, the sonic similarities of which are carried on in the next track Psych Ward.
Before the soundtrack gets slightly monotonous, The Search For Answers makes another tonal manoeuver as it yet again brims with a slow-paced somewhat-hopeful ambiance. As such sounds carry on, a standout-track in the second half of the tracklist is Community. The tension seems to rise to a new extent in this one. By the closing seconds, the panicky shifts in the violin strings might play with your sense. It almost feels like the central character of the music is on a tightrope, caught in an increasingly troubling situation. Even though each song has its moments where the stakes seem high, Community’s third act is gracefully terrorizing.
Survivors serves as the finale, a good-enough amalgamation of most of the aforementioned sounds, serving as a realistic reminder of the trials and tribulations of life. One would think that after nearly 17 minutes of anxiety-inducing music, a calming track would close the album. But Survivors boasts of a blend of hope and a certain tumultuous reality, perfectly carrying forward the sounds echoed before it.
It might be evident by now that Bend Or Break might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you plan to listen to some soothing instrumental music to put yourself to sleep at night, then this album might not be the perfect match for you. This doesn’t mean that Ameya Saraf’s debut misses its mark. It’s just that his music seems to be made for a particular demographic. Unintentional influences like Brian Eno’s scores and Saraf’s own musical proficiency lead to an unsettling set of emotions exemplified by the album’s ten tracks.
The soundtrack is clearly not meant to be heard for casual listening. The music serves the purpose of telling an emotionally-engaging and relevant story and arguably does justice to it. One would require to be in a particular mood to perfectly grasp the chaotic beauty that each track plays around with. Mellow. Ambient. Tragic. Hopeful. There are many emotions that Saraf’s album evokes.
Verdict: Each composition on Bend Or Break unleashes chaotic beauty.
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