Elements (Fire Records, 2008)
Elements, released in Pakistan in 2008, is the debut CD of composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Abbas Premjee. Exploring North Indian classical music, Mr. Premjee has dug deep into the emotional and spiritual sources of the raga on Elements. Bending the strict constraints, using Western instrumentation and finding his own voice in the genre, Mr. Premjee has discovered he is "walking along the edge of new music that will one day be realized."
Composing all the songs on Elements, as well as playing throughout the CD guitar, bass guitar and mohanveena, a cross-hybridization between a guitar and a sitar, Abbas Premjee opens Elements with the elegantly dreamy "Contemplation." With graceful guitar/mohanveena lines threaded throughout, "Contemplation" is atmospheric. "Jhoom Deewane" is moody and mesmerizing with the help of Ifran Haider on tabla, Louis Pinto on drums, Failal Rafi on darbuka and Manzoor Jhalla’s hypnotic vocals.
Tracks like "Sajan Bana" with Ifran Haider’s warm vocals and "Seven Heavens" with its layered sizzling guitar licks, vocals by Rauf Sami and bass guitar lines by Khalid Khan possess Western elements, but reach beyond the mere ordinary or the meshing of genres. "Entrainment" is a delicious with an edginess punctuated by Rauf Sami’s vocals and meaty guitar lines. Equally alluring is Mr. Premjee’s leggy Spanish guitar lines of "Heaven and Earth" before the track turns explosive with electric guitar and drums, the kaleidoscope of electric guitar colors on title track "Elements" and the dreamy landscape created on "The Inner Sanctum."
Mr. Premjee’s Elements is stunningly diverse. Twisting and bending the Indian raga into a Gordian knot blended with jazz, rock and flamenco, Elements burns bright with East and West influences. Elements is gorgeously rich and tightly drawn, a lure for any listener willing to step out on Mr. Premjee’s musical edge.
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.