Voices of desi diaspora

US born, India-raised and London-based jazz musician, percussionist and producer Sarathy Korwar’s second studio album, More Arriving, draws on the nascent rap scenes of Mumbai and Delhi.

Published: 09th June 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th June 2019 06:06 AM   |  A+A-

Sarathy Korwar|Rishabah Sood

US born, India-raised and London-based jazz musician, percussionist and producer Sarathy Korwar’s second studio album, More Arriving, draws on the nascent rap scenes of Mumbai and Delhi. Korwar became fascinated with local artistes while travelling in India in 2016. “I wanted to make a record that features a range of South Asian voices set to the backdrop of jazz, electronics and Indian music,” he says. The album, which will release on July 26 on UK-based label, Leaf, incorporates spoken word with Korwar’s own Indian classical and jazz instrumentation with, among others, The Comet Is Coming’s Danalogue on synths, Tamar Osborn’s baritone sax, Indo-jazz specialist Al MacSween alongside voices of the brown diaspora.

Lead single ‘Mumbay’ features MC Mawali punning on the associations of the colonial term Bombay or the Indian nationalist Mumbai when referencing his hometown. The song has Mawali applying classical Carnatic rhythms to his Hindi/Marathi flow, dancing effortlessly over Osborn and Korwar’s rhythms. The accompanying video, produced by Bombay Arthouse, showcases the city’s various landscapes—colonial era buildings, slums, gridlocked roads and the sea. “It’s about learning to navigate the streets and bustle of city life and ultimately going beyond the name of a city,” he says. As MC Mawali puts it “Mumbai or Bombay, it doesn’t matter to me, call it what you want, you’re still from the street.” 

Other songs in the album include ‘Coolie’ featuring a collaboration between Delhi-based artists Prabh Deep and Delhi Sultanate, and ‘Good Ol’ Vilayati’ that fuses tabla and percussion with traditional Carnatic vocals. ‘Bol’, a track inspired by Korwar’s love for qawwali, features the spoken word poet Zia Ahmed who sarcastically runs through the stereotypes South Asians are subjected to in the UK. ‘City Of Words’ is a 12-minute long, instrumental tune that features an alto saxophone solo by Chris Williams with a rousing poem by TRAP POJU and a smattering of Hindustani vocals by Mirande. ‘Pravasis’ is the final tune on the album, which features Abu Dhabi-based writer and spoken word artist Deepak Unnikrishnan.

The poem in the song is from Unnikrishnan’s book Temporary People (Restless Books, 2017). It lists the whole range of people and their professions before ending with the lines “Temporary people, illegal people, ephemeral people...more arriving”, which are the last words on the album and also become its name, More Arriving.

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