CD Review: Amit Chaudhuri Found Music
(Babel Vortex, BVOR1089). Review by Fran Hardcastle
The second album from writer/musician Amit Chaudhuri is an interesting collection of curiousities and presentations of his aural memories, or Found Music. The album grows on the listener until one can’t help but keep returning to delve further into the intellectually quirky layers of well-known pop and rock songs fused with Hindustani raga.
The opening track, On Broadway (postcolonial version), approaches the standard from the point of view of an Indian cook and illegal immigrant who ‘hasn’t got enough to eat’. Musically this involves bringing in tabla and improvisation with Indian classical influences. The result is a pleasantly surprising, rather charming opener.
This same charm can be found in some of Chaudhuri’s original tracks such as Country Hustle, a catchy bluesy country song that will stick in your head for it’s singalong chorus, in which Chaudhuri’s voice and style show inflections of Paul Simon.
In his sleeve notes, Chaudhuri explains the intellectual approach to each of the tracks containing his Found Music. That is, aural memories from his childhood and youth, such as Lennon’s Norwegian Wood and Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat in both of which he hears classical raga amongst other connecting influences. The resulting music presents the songs as first heard from his perspective growing up in Calcutta.
Intellect aside, the album provides moments of heart-catching beauty. The last track on the album, Famous Blue Raincoat Suite, based around Cohen’s aforementioned song seamlessly flows from Rodrigo’s Concierto di Aranjuez, played stunningly by Jonathan Impett on trumpet into raga Kafi and follows Cohen’s original with two Hindi film songs. The delicate interweaving of these snippets creates a fresh aural landscape that is a pleasure to hear.