Trying to figure out how to start any article or review is always difficult without resorting to clichés. So I’ll just get into the album. ‘To Begin’ knocks on the door of really unique sonic textures and the way it sits in the larger soundscape is really interesting to look at as it is a brilliant work of music by the amazingly talented Arunachala.
A drummer and percussionist, Arunachala explores Carnatic music and culturally important rhythms and instruments and finds a way to bring it into western traditions. This album stands as testament to the deep understanding he possess of both music lineages.
With the eponymous track ‘To Begin’ is a great way to give us an idea of what we can expect from the rest of the album. A constant throughout it is amazing Bass work throughout the album. Here we see Arunachala doing what he does best and brings together some really experimental sounds and rhythms to create something that is refreshing.
‘Sharanam’ takes quite a departure from it and walks into the realm of blues and hard rock with an blistering solo that is gnarly and mean (the kind that makes musician do that face). A well arranged horns section can be found in ‘Lost and Found’ (see what I did there?). The penultimate track is an acoustic and laid back version of ‘To Begin’ which is poetic as it does a great way to begin wrapping up this album.
As a genre-bending work of music, it does justice to a lot of traditions of different musical styles like carnatic music, hindustani, jazz, blues, rock and roll, psychedelic, etc. And none of these are thrown in superficially. Its all woven in what turns out to be an intricate piece of art.
While it does deviate from mainstream music, it does so with confidence and intention; all while being a great vehicle for improvisation and experimentation. This album is a sensational work of art and one that Arunachala deserves high praise for.
Verdict: An experimental album that carves its own strong identity.