Jatayu’s music might draw several interpretations amongst niche audiences of avid listeners of Carnatic and Jazz as both styles seem to be evoked in their discography. However, as is evident from their latest effort: an Extended Play christened Moodswings, Jatayu’s music is ambient and funky enough for mainstream audiences too.
The entirely instrumental record boast four songs, most of which were written and composed a few years back. The final product that we hear involves reworkings of these tracks, that are peppered with a dash of post-corona influence. While Jatayu’s touring did come to a halt last year for obvious reasons, the aftermath of the lockdown can be seen as a blessing in disguise considering the sheer versatility that the four-track EP presents.
Instrumental EPs are anyway a risk, considering that the layperson audiences often tend to skip the collection after one or two tracks (misinterpreting that the entire tracklist would sound similar).
However, there’s a unique mood in each of the tracks on Moodswings.
The titular opening track sets the mood with a blend of chaos and playfulness that would sound quite energetic if witnessed in a live performance. A more meditative state is achieved with the track that follows, Dual Raga.
And then comes a standout from the EP, a song that’s titled 69 for some reason. The guitaring (by Sahib Singh and ganjira player Shylendran Ravindran) is increasingly groovy that perfectly complements Manu Krishnan’s energetic drumming. The song does complete justice to its 5-minute-long duration. As the previous tracks’ chaotically soothing energy graces the opening minutes, a more ominous state is reached towards the middle that’s followed by emotive “weeping” fingerstyle guitaring and basswork (by bassist Kashyap Jaishankar) which then progresses with more fast-paced rhythms.
The last track Salad Days similarly transitions between paces although on a less significant level as the aforementioned 69. It’s rare to pinpoint any flaws in the EP considering Jatayu’s ever-reliable Carnatic Jazz/Blues fusion works yet again with the sophomore effort living up to its predecessor Chango Tales. With such diversity in moods, the Chennai-based outfit would probably raise expectations if they plan to drop a full-length album later on.
All this praise aside, it can arguably be said that this EP might not be a match against Jatayu’s live performances of these same tracks. After all, each of the track is lively enough to be witnessed at a funk/jazz-influenced gig. But as the future of concerts still remains tumultuous this year, maybe the Moodswings EP is the closest listeners can get at feeling the essence of the band’s fusion.
Verdict: Upbeat, frenzied fun wrapped up in an EP of multiple sounds.