New York-based contemporary musician and composer Shubh Saran has released his second full-length album called “Inglish”
The new album explores new musical territory, as Saran incorporates predominant Indian and Middle Eastern instruments for the first time, fusing sounds from modern jazz, neo-soul, and rock with classical and contemporary Indian music.
The term “Inglish” – a portmanteau from the late 1900s – describes Indian English, a variety of the English language spoken in India and by the Indian diaspora. It’s a form of dialect that has shown similarity to British English, brought by British Colonization, but has become an amalgamation of Indian and Western culture. This duality has been the focus of Saran’s most recent research and explorations in music, and it’s something that he has experienced first-hand.
“Inglish” as a body of work is as illustrative of his creative approach as it is of his background. Throughout his life, having to assimilate into different cultures has been a common theme for Saran, and “Inglish: is a reflection of that progression and evolution.
The album opens with ‘Enculture’, one of the most different sounding songs on the record, and is an introduction to the themes the album explores. The sprightly ‘Intra’ flits across the different inspirations and tempos giving the listener a peek into Saran’s mind while ‘postradition’ – the only single to be released off the album – is a sonic exploration of the idea of a world that has lost the rituals of traditions.
‘Ring Hunting’ and ‘Terai 1911’ are thematically tied to the infamous hunt that happened in Terai in Nepal in 1911, when King George V hunted and killed hundreds of tigers and rhinoceroses. “The fact that Ring Hunting was celebrated so much, just one hundred years ago, to now where it’s looked at as considerably vile, I find that interesting,” says Saran. The saxophones shine in ‘Other’, a song that explores the idea of “otherness while the plaintive ‘remember to come home soon’ created with just the guitar, piano and saxophone is one of the standout songs of the album.
While language is a large part of the inspiration for “Inglish”, the reflection on personal identity and the tension between trying to retain one’s own native tongue and customs while living in non-native territories is equally present. The unboxing of how traditions and cultures get passed down by generations, and the true origins of those artifacts, was also in the foreground of Saran’s mind when writing and recording “Inglish”.
“Inglish” is a masterful piece of glittering, glowing, meticulously-crafted fusion music from the higher realms. Throughout the album’s run time, Shubh Saran’s performance is self assured, confident and sophisticated, effortlessly morphing through different melodic shapes and ever-hovering clouds of beautiful chords. If the spirit of boundless fusion music runs through your veins or if you are just starting to dip your toes in the fabulous world of fusion music, “Inglish” is a fantastic place to start.
Even if you are unfamiliar with the sonic territory of fusion music, you can feel a very compelling depth and freshness that makes Shubh Saran’s music work. Regardless of whether you understand how the magic happens, you can still feel it. Get rid of any preconceptions, give the album a spin (or a stream in today’s parlance), dive deep, and get ready to be moved like you have never been moved before.