Nalin Vinayak has scored for a couple of films, so it is fair to assume that he is good at aligning sound to sentiment. In his album Fire, he takes this impulse into overdrive, offering 8 tracks that play with 8 different genres/ sources of inspiration.
For instance, the first track is a tranquil play of flute and string inspired by the melodies of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. It is the most refined and well-balanced track of the album. Every track, in fact, is born from Vinayak’s love for a specific artist. He also invests in making each song revolve around a specific message, insight, or even feeling. Fire, a prog-rock melange whisks through the regret of not having made amends to a loved one. Sandman yanks the listeners back to the gold standards of 80’s pop, driven by Vinayak’s love of Michael Jackson. It has a distinctly nostalgic quality and is bound to appeal to those with memories of cassette tapes and MTV before Roadies.
Go On is reminiscent of American singer-instrumental-composer Neal Morse, but it doesn’t really touch upon his more experimental impulses with the super-group Transatlantic. Instead, it’s an upbeat, optimistic piece celebrating the joys of friendship and human connection. Laugh is inspired by electronic soundmaker Thomas Neumann is lush, gentle, and utterly comforting. It is meant to provide assurance in dark times by reminding the listener of happy memories, offering much-needed hope in the process.
Individually, the tracks are solid creations. They represent a curious and ever-evolving creator who listens to a varied playlist and draws magic from multiple genres. While no one can accuse Vinayak of being predictable, the album does lack a certain consistency. The songs have very little in common, thematically or in melodic substance. This might be irksome to some listeners, as the album does not take the time to establish a signature mood or atmosphere. It can seem all over the place and can make for a scattered listening experience. For some listeners, the mix of 8 different genres in less than an hour can seem a bit untethered.
Nonetheless, it’s a good album, and tries to intrigue and entertain it’s listeners. There is not a moment of monotony, and Vinayak displays enough skill to be taken seriously.