Arranged Marriage NP
(2017, Team Love Records)
For all their demonstrable sonic differences, guitarist and synthesizer player Jerry Adler and sitarist Mustafa Bhagat create impressively simpatico, resonant soundscapes on this debut recording. Adler remarks, “We’re not bringing the sitar into a Western context or anything similarly contrived.” Uncontrived is right. The New Paltz group’s unique work is closer to the reverb-dosed stoner drone of Labradford and Stars of the Lid than any past “Indo-fusion” exemplar.
Each title on this release refers to a specific raga form. While I’m no Hindustani music expert, I suspect neither the Melvins-ish bursts of distortion on “Hemant” nor the foregrounding of Adler’s ambient, looped galactic coughs and eerie electro-squiggles over Bhagat’s incandescent sitar halfway through “Bhimpalasi” dogmatically adhere to the classical swaras on which they’re based—and it scarcely matters. This is unusually compelling music, fully embracing the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s immortal credo: “Ancient to the Future.” Team-love.com.