India’s premier Hindi rock band, Antariksh is starting 2021 with a bang, and they have brought Marty Friedman along for the ride. Wait what? Marty Friedman? Yes, the Marty Friedman. Forbidden City, The Ninja, Speed Metal Symphony, Tornado Of Souls, Lucretia and Hangar 18 Marty Friedman. Have we got your attention now? Great, on to the song.
“Quest” featuring Marty Friedman is an out and out Progressive-Rock meets Fusion track (so a fusion with Fusion) where Antariksh seamlessly blend their Indian and Western Influences. It’s a dark, heavy and intricate song incorporating Carnatic music inspired guitar riffs and breakdowns, a Hindustani sitar solo (played masterfully by Parikrama’s Dhruv Bedi), and of course, a guest guitar solo by Marty Friedman.
“Quest” unfurls with an aggressive riff that has a wonderfully unique tone and Varun Rajput uses it beautifully to set up the whole song. The aggressive guitar soon fades out and a space-y (perfect for a band called Antariksh), ambient atmosphere welcomes his voice on the track for the first time. Varun Rajput’s voice sings and stings at the same time as he delivers the lyrics with delicacy, care, and restrained power. By the time the guitar riffs return for the glorious chorus, you are already hooked on to the track’s emotion and story. As is the case with most Antariksh choruses, “Quest” also glistens with hair rising, anthemic brilliance.
Cue the serene sitar solo by Dhruv Bedi and you just marvel at the smorgasbord of musical delicacies that this song has already provided for its listeners. Post the sitar solo, Varun Rajput croons lyrics in English (this is the first ever bi-lingual track by the band), and that sets the stage up for Mr. Marty Friedman. The level of intensity and intricacy given to this elaborate and beautiful solo is impressive.
For a little under 50 seconds, Marty Frideman mesmerizes listeners with the constant flow of creative energy. The solo is immaculately phrased and has a lot of character. Marty Friedman’s vibrato is as magical as ever and the solo does a great job of avoiding the traps of a noodling shred fest. Marty Friedman plays every note with feel and precision, striking a precarious balance in a way which only he can. The guitar solo that follows it, has the unenviable job of going after Michael Jordan in a Slam Dunk Contest but it does hold its own well.
Like a gift that keeps on giving, the soaring chorus comes back to drive the song to a dramatic finale. Conceptually, “Quest” touches on the topic of breaking the illusions of “me and mine” that most of us live with and get attached to. The song has introspective lyrics, questioning the true cause of our existence as humans, and how our ego, lust for money, power and greed make us feel separate from the world outside, while the world we see is not reality but a projection onto our consciousness.
When you listen to “Quest”, you can clearly feel that everyone involved with the project has poured all their love and passion into each moment and that goes a long way towards making it a really wonderful listening experience. Highly recommended.