T.L. Mazumdar is an accomplished musician and vocalist who has in the past, collaborated with some of the countrys finest. T.L. has always been fascinated by the musical variety and diversity that he has encountered in different surroundings, and having spent his formative years living across the globe spanning across 3 continents and 4 countries his mind has opened up to musical cultures beyond our shores. His fascination for this has culminated in the creation of BUeC an album with a collection of songs that try to bridge the gap between music that is both eastern and western, electronic and jazzy, and music that is at once ours and theirs. However, this album is not just an attempt at unifying music, it is also a reflection of T.L.s life beyond our shores, a story of his experiences where his Indian cultural upbringing and his close encounters of the western kind have merged together to paint a picture that takes the listener on a delightful journey of grooves and harmony.
It is hard not to be mesmerized by the beautiful complexities dished out in T.L. Mazumdars sophomore effort. Each featured song is a simple journey into the world of melody, showcasing a musical diaspora that keeps echoing in your mind long after the final track has faded into the distance. It is difficult to label the music here as fusion, since the western and eastern parts do not really unite or fuse together in fact they lock their horns in conflict, which is deliberate and yet subtle enough to make the listener eager to delve deeper into the crux of the composition – and this is where the album strikes gold, creating a mood which takes the listener through different doors and into different zones of both musical symmetry and asymmetry.
Take for instance the track Clear Blue Skies. It starts off with this bouncy intro that is a beautiful combination of electronica, drums and bass. The entry of the tabla adds an invigorating sense of eastern progressiveness, but the tempo and mood swing dramatically with the entry of T.L.s vocals, thus bringing about a sweetness and calmness to the song that is in sharp contrast to the initial flow. The accompanying sarod is the final ingredient to this track and it lends a sharp punch to the rhythm, making you feel like you are floating down a river. And that is, in effect, the entire essence of this album a conflict between the east and the west which surprisingly does not leave the listener in oblivion.
If I Sang takes the listener through a journey of contemplation and the tone of the accompanying piano makes you want to sit back and reflect on days gone by. The wistful sound of the bansuri only makes you dive deeper into your past, bringing up to the surface long-forgotten chapters of pain and sorrow. The voices of cheerful children are heard in the background as the song fades, and that works in uplifting your mood and preparing the listener, for the next track, the chirpy Come And Go.
As memories of the past give way to the gritty face of the present, T.L.s vocals soothe you back to reality and give you the strength to face the daily drudgery that is life. His vocals are also instrumental in helping you change your mood once again on Feel Like A Fool, where he makes a plaintive plea for help. Here the piano and the tabla combine in an ever-so subtle way to bring his cry of help to the foreground. Someone is a journey back to T.L.s roots where his eastern upbringing is allowed to dominate the western cultural influences that probably helped in shaping his mind and thoughts. The music on this song reflects this dominance too, where the eastern sound is more prominent than the accompanying western beats and melodies.
BUeC comes to a head in Youll Be The One as the sound of the bansuri blends in with T.L.s soft vocals, the listener is suddenly catapulted into a collage of sounds that paint a picture of chaos within a broader window of contemplative harmony. There are moments where the tabla and the drums go head-to-head with each other and then they suddenly meander into different avenues. If anything, this song represents a co-existence rather than a conflict of styles, which makes it a delightful listen.
Youre A Reason is the closest that you might come to a love song on the album. As is with most tracks on this album, the vocals are drenched with emotion and this sets the mood of the song. The vocals of the accompanying female vocalist are almost like a response to his cries, and her toned-down Indian classical vocals sound almost as if he is being asked to come back to his roots. If one song captures the entire feel of BUeC then it is the track Happy Song which starts with a slow wistful opening, and the as the song reaches its crescendo, the sounds of the bansuri, tabla, guitar, drums and the subtle sounds of the ebow all come together and unite as one, without disturbing the equilibrium of each instruments unique individual sound.
BUeC is an album that swings your mood back and forth like a pendulum and much of this is also due to the albums solid instrumentation. It must have been a difficult job getting the textures for each composition just right to capture both the mood and the story behind each song, and T.L. must consider himself blessed to have had so many esteemed and capable musicians lending a hand to help in the development of his baby. The collaborators on this album, indeed, are many, and each individual has painted his or her style on BUeC. Notable mentions are Jivraj Singh on the drums and Johannes Stange who performed and arranged the horns. Others who lent a helping hand were Pratik Shrivastav (sarod), Amyt Datta (guitar), Micha Schelhaas (electric Guitar/ebow), Max Clouth (nylon string guitar), Julia Ohrmann (bansuri), Soumyajyoti Ghosh (bansuri), Nilanjan Ghosh (tablas), Jeffery Dean (tablas) and Matthew Brown (pedal steel guitar).
This spirit of collaboration and collection is also aptly reflected in the album title BUeC. Break up the name: B Bideshi (Bengali for foreigner), Ue Uebersetzung (German for translation) and C Collective (since this album is a collective effort). One can only wonder how this album would have turned out without the collective spirit that was embraced by each collaborator – a must-listen for music lovers who hate their music to be labeled and classified by the constraints of genre.