A/V Room









Nitin Sawhney - Philtre

Review: Jack Foley

NITIN Sawhney is most definitely an artist who seems to be going from strength to strength.

Two years after the release of his highly-acclaimed Human album, the multi-talented musician returns with Philtre, an inspiring collection of songs that take the listener on a journey through global culture, Indian classical music, Bengali folk, traditional flamenco, blues, old soul and R&B.

Sawhney, himself, believes Philtre marks a significant progression in his talents, thanks to the lessons he has learned over the past couple of years.

"From working with an orchestra, I learned more about building a song and playing with a sense of scale," he explains.

"From DJ-ing, I saw how changing the speed of a song, or using different rhythms, can impact on an audience.

"From working with film directors, it was how a certain sound can evoke a mood or emotion.

"All those experiences have improved me as both a musician and a producer. There are things I've done on this album I couldn't have attempted two years ago."

The result is an album that truly marks Sawhney out as one of the most talented artists of his generation - one who isn't afraid to diversify and bring all sorts of musical experiences to anyone willing to listen.

On the excellent Mausam, for example, a hip beat and some wonderful flutes from Ashwin Srinivasan mix delightfully with orchestrations by Chandru and The Indian Full Harmonic Orchestra.

While the blues-laden Dead Man features some brilliant slide guitar from Sawhney himself, coupled with the gruff vocals of Ninja Tunes' Fink and Jayanta Bose.

Indeed, it is the diversity of music that keeps Philtre so lively and constantly surprising.

Sawhney has collaborated with numerous artists from a wide spectrum of musical genres (including his mother!) to put forward an album that continually evolves and never outstays its welcome.

Regular collaborator, Tina Grace, contributes some suitably sultry vocals to the blissfully chilled out Spark, while the Philadelphia-based Vikter Duplaix lends his soulful vocals to the jazzy Journey, which marks another musical direction for the album.

The ambitious scope of the album is best exemplified in the two-parter, Noches en Vela, the second part of which mixes a lively drum 'n' bass beat with the strings of Stephen Hussey and The Urban Soul Orchestra, as well as the rhythm guitars of Sawhney and Ramon Gimenez and a solo guitar from Francisco Lomena.

It's a lively, intoxicating blend of hispanic rhythms and Eastern flavour that just keeps getting better the longer you listen to it.

Likewise, a hip-hop beat and some delightful scratching lends a very urban feel to the gritty Mirage (which is all too short), while the groovy melodies of Flipside provide a feel-good vibe that's not dissimilar to the hip cuts of Nightmares on Wax (complete with a delicious vocal from Sharon Duncan).

Further highlights include the infectious, flamenco-flavoured Footprints, which features a superb collaboration with Spanish collective, Ojos de Brujo; the moody opening track, Everything, which sets things off in fine style; the funky, blues-soaked Throw, which features Taio on vocals and beatbox; and the atmospheric Koyal (Songbird), which best demonstrates Sawhney's ability to draw from working with film directors.

To quote Sawhney again: "Music is a universal way of getting us through the daily crap and Philtre means 'healing' or 'magic potion' and that's how I feel music."

It's an apt description for the album as a whole - for Sawhney has conjured a magical experience that provides a near-perfect remedy for the stresses and strains of the world today.

Join the therapy soon!

Track listing:
1. Everything
2. Spark
3. Dead Man
4. Rag Doll
5. Mausam
6. Journey
7. Void
8. Koyal (Songbird)
9. Noches En Vela (Part 1)
10. Noches En Vela (Part 2)
11. Mirage
12. Throw
13. Flipside
14. Brainwaves
15. Footprints
16. The Search
17. Sanctuary

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