I very rarely give out a 5 out of 5 to an album, but Shankar Tucker’s “Filament” has deserved that honor. It is flawless. Shankar Tucker is an American clarinetist and music composer who rose to fame with his music series called “ShrutiBox“. The album, “Filament” is unique, creative, and makes a much needed change from music that is coming out these days. Shankar has managed to produce tracks that are modern in sound and traditional both! Shankar’s clarinet playing forms the backbone of every track and really transforms each track from being good to beyond great. Without the clarinet playing, the tracks would not sound so magical. Shankar is a true genius and a very gifted musician. The music is so fluid and beautiful that you will want to listen to this album multiple times. All the musicians – Shankar, accompanying singers, percussionists, violinists, tabla players, etc. – have done incredibly well. It is great that Shankar used so many different vocalists on the album. He truly chose the right artist for the right tracks.
“Filament” is a must have album not just for lovers of Indian music, but for all lovers of music.
Shankar’s tracks are available for purchase on iTunes here. “Filament” can be purchased here. Read on below for the full review of the album. A couple of the tracks have videos on YouTube which have been included below.
The first track, “Chal Chal Sakhi (Come, My Beloved)” ft Ankita Joshi, is the second longest on the album at 6 min 20 seconds, and it is an excellent opening to the album. Shankar’s clarinet instrumental is so playful in the piece. The way all the beats and sounds create synergy is pure perfection. There is such an energy about this piece from the first few seconds. A unique and wonderful number that is complimented well by Ankita Joshi’s vocals. She is such a talented singer whose vocal modulations (e.g. check out her vocalizations around 1 minute into the track until 40 seconds after) were so well controlled and truly showcase her talent!
The next song is “Ae Re Chanda (Suite for the Moon).” That is broken into four parts – Alaap, Exposition, Improvisation, and Tillana. The Alaap is purely instrumental. The Exposition introduces a male vocal to the track. The Improvisation portion is my favorite from the four segments, as you can really understand Tucker’s genius. The tillana track made me want to grab my ghungroos and start dancing! The male vocalist Devendra Pal Singh did a great job with the piece as did all the musicians.
“Dil Hai Namazi (The Heart’s Prayer)” ft. Vijay Prakash is the longest on the album at 6 min 22 seconds. It’s a soft piece that gradually builds up. Shankar plays clarinet, guitar, and keyboards on the track! He is such a diverse and multi-talented musician. It is a very smooth track.
“Kasthi (River Song)” ft. Nikhita Gandhi is another nice song. Nikhita’s tonal texture is well-suited to this track. Also, Jomy George’s tabla playing is especially nice at the beginning of the track. Be sure to listen to the full track and watch out for Shankar’s clarinet interlude around 2 minutes 30 seconds into the track.
“Dhuan Dhuan (Lost in Smoke)” is another track that is split in parts. First is the Alaap ft. HN Bhaskar, followed by the main track. I really enjoyed the violin playing by HN Bhaskar in the alaap. Shankar sings on the main track. You will be surprised at just how nice a voice he has! He really has a gift for music!
“Amaidhi Thaedi (In Search of Peace)” is another one that is in two parts. Part I features Shakthisree Gopalan on vocals while Part II is an instrumental with just Shankar playing clarinet. After listening to the tracks I can safely say, they have found peace! This track is so calming to listen to and Shakthisree has the right softness in her voice to add to the music. The Meditation track is nice as well. It was a wise choice to just focus on the clarinet on the track without additional instruments to distract from the music. The second I heard the meditation track, my brain kept trying to choreograph a ballet to it! It sounds like something that could easily be woven into a ballet like the Nutcracker or even Swan Lake.
“Yaad (Remembrance)” ft. Nirali Kartik is another great track. The percussion on the track makes it sound jazzier – as does Nirali’s voice. What this track will make you remember, is how essential music is to our lives.
“Aadiyallo Anthamillalo (Kerala Boat Song)” ft. Job Kurian on vocals is another fun track on the album with a more rhythmic beat. It captures the essence of boat songs in India in a more relatable modern presentation. The instruments aren’t typical of those used in traditional boat songs, but they are the perfect choice in this track.
The last track, “Udaan (Liberation)” ft. Vidya Iyer is a nice end to a delightful album. Vidya’s singing is in perfect sync with the background music. You really will feel as though your soul and worries have been liberated by the time you reach the end of the album.
“Filament” may be one of the best albums I have heard in a while, and really should be in every music lovers collection. Please support Shankar and buy the album legally on iTunes!
photos by Jesse Weiner