UK-based musician Soumik Datta is all set to release his latest EP, Jangal
The gradual social and ecological collapse all around us is a much-exploited subject and can be a real challenge to accept, even musically. But London-based Indian classical musician and sarod maestro Soumik Datta seems to have managed just that through some wonderfully constructed notes in his upcoming EP, Jangal, that’s slated for a November 13 release.
Inspired by the global environmental crisis that’s devouring us, the five-track EP has an eclectic mix of Latin percussion, analogue synth, Swiss hang drums and Indian sarod, that come together to mourn the slow destruction of Mother Nature. The music — though very rhythmic and soothing to the ears — manages to make us feel helpless through the synchronised use of apparently very discordant instruments. “It seems as though they howl, roar and protest over our inability to prevent the evident collapse of our ecological system,” says Soumik.
Apart from Soumik, the EP features some of the biggest names in the world music scene including Austrian percussionist Manu Delago on hang, British musician Al MacSween on piano, Bernhard Schimpelsberger on percussion, Ayoze de Alejandro Lopez on Latin percussion and Indian percussionist Pirashanna Thevarajah on the ghatam and morsing. “As an artiste, I believe we have a duty to rage on, to create, against all odds, against resistance. I’ve never had the courage to make music in protest of anything before. But these melodies were raging in defiance, simmering under my skin for months on end, until I had to manifest them. These are songs that celebrate the jungles of our planet and the beasts that live within,” explains Soumik.
The title track, Jangal, opens unexpectedly with a rhythm played on Latin American Bombo drums, traditionally used by Amazonian tribes to celebrate nature and the rainforests. Soumik’s bespoke sarod, which acts like a bridge between nature and the concrete jungle, manages to weave a rich tapestry of ragas, rhythms and synth — with a little help from the traditional Indian melody, Mian ki Malhar. While the frenzied beats in the Wildfire track erupt in a crescendo, underscoring the issue of forest fires, Beast is a simmering track that reins in one’s emotions with the apt use of bamhum, a rare bamboo flute from Nagaland.
There’s also a distinct ray of hope that emerges through the brilliant use of haunting vocals, which is very folkish in melody. “From a distance, those burning branches in the Congo, in Peru and India often fail to evoke protest. But these trees, like gentle giants — tall, and shooting skywards, are the lungs of this planet, which need to be preserved,” says Soumik.
Also, Soumik’s three-part TV series Rhythms of India will premiere on BBC Worldwide, on November 23, where he will set out to rediscover India’s rich history and place its rapid transformation in context, musically.
Jangal releases on November 13 and will be available on all streaming platforms including iTunes, Spotify and Vevo.