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Sarathy Korwar
More Arriving Dustin Krcatovich , August 5th, 2019 08:29

Sarathy Korwar's new album, More Arriving, is a remarkable meeting of jazz, hip-hop, Indian classical music, and radical politics, finds Dustin Krcatovich

In the last few years, we've been fortunate to see a resurgence, and reimagining, of the polyamorous love affair between hip hop, jazz, and radical politics. In the increasingly nightmarish world we're all inhabiting, work of this nature is integral to keep the resisters dancing, shouting, awake. More Arriving, the latest from UK-based drummer/tablaist and composer Sarathy Korwar, is a confrontational, musically far-reaching addition to the revolution music toolkit.

Aside from the aforementioned musical inputs, Korwar brings his Indian upbringing to bear here. Much of the album's melodic and rhythmic thrust inspired by that country's classical traditions; several tracks feature rapping and spoken word in Hindi, Marathi, and/or Punjabi by the likes of Prabh Deep and MC Mawali. The album's title, of course, is a defiant reference to current conservative attitudes on immigration and increasing diversity in the UK. The lyrics very specifically rail against Brexit-era circumstances for brown people, but it's honestly not difficult to apply a line like "snap poll/which racist do you want on your bank note?" to the broader nationalist wave in America, France, et al.

Of course, this isn't strictly a spoken word record, and the music does at least as much subtextual heavy lifting. Korwar isn't the first to blend jazz, hip hop, and Indian influences, but unlike some producers before him, he doesn't use the rich history of Indian music as "exotic" window dressing. A studied musician in both jazz and Indian classical music, his compositions reflect a deep and learned approach to both; the hip-hop elements, meanwhile, seem less a studied thing for Korwar than a reflection of day-to-day, modern urban life. Bursts of reggae wooziness, gnarled free-jazz atonality, and electronic noise afford the album a shock of modernity and adventurousness without feeling forced or awkward.

As any half-decent human reading this knows, we're living in ugly times, with all the pus rising to the surface of our dying planet's face in festering, human-shaped boils. It can seem terrifying and hopeless, most especially if you're directly on the receiving end of the nationalistic hatred currently so en vogue. Albums like More Arriving are both a balm and a call to action, a sliver of light at the end of an especially dark tunnel.