By Michael J. West | Published March 2022
With its deep Indian roots and fusion veneer, guitarist Shubh Saran’s inglish begs for comparisons with John McLaughlin’s late-’90s Remember Shakti project. Such comparisons aren’t without merit, but Saran’s vision is wider ranging. The guitarist was born in India but grew up in Bangladesh, Egypt, Switzerland, Canada and the U.S., and all of that goes into this scintillating musical brew.
All of that, and more. “intra” is an electronically charged track that has clear connections to North Indian Hindustani music but filters it through the Bhangra beat of Britain’s Indian diaspora. Europe makes itself further known in the atmospherics of “There Across The Ocean.” “Ring Hunter,” meanwhile, feels close to 21st century dance club music, and “the Other” boasts jazz fusion’s speed and chops. In each of these tunes, however, are trace elements of the rhythms and textures, often simply a matter of Saran’s timbral choices, of both Near and Far East.
Electronic effects and production are crucial to realizing Saran’s vision, meaning that even otherwise acoustic pieces like “remember to come home soon” carry subtle waves of reverb and drone. But it moves “postradition” and “Terai 1911” uncomfortably close to smooth jazz, and elsewhere threatens to drown “MOS” in ambient noise. Impressive as inglish is, it also shows the dangers of infatuation with technology.
inglish: Enculture; intra; postradition; Ring Hunting; Terai 1911; the Other; There Across The Ocean; remember to come home soon; MOS; Mother Tongue Influence. (37:42)
Personnel: Shubh Saran, guitar, banjo, synthesizers; Gabi Rose, Alex Silver, Jared Yee, tenor saxophones; Brian Plautz, alto saxophone; Christian Li, piano, synthesizers; Billy Duffy, trombone; Julia Adamy, bass (1–4, 7, 10); Adam Neely, bass (6); Joshua Bailey, Angelo Spampinato, drums; Sarthak Pahwa, percussion (2); Gilbert Mansour, percussion (10); MT Aditya Srinivasan, tabla (2); Rasika Shekhar, bansuri (3).
Ordering Info: shubhsaran.com