“One of the best things we’ve been able to play on the radio for a very long time.” Gilles Peterson
We live in divisive times. Multiculturalism rises hand-in-hand with racial tensions, and politicians seem powerless to even bring people within earshot of their convoluted message. It’s time for a different perspective.
That is certainly what US-born, Indian-bred, London-based percussionist Sarathy Korwar achieved with his second studio album, More Arriving, in 2019. A vibrant, pluralistic missive for the world to hear. This is not necessarily a record of unity; it’s an honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in a divided Britain. Incorporating rappers from Mumbai and New Delhi with spoken word and his own Indian classical and jazz instrumentation, this is a record born of confrontation; one for our confrontational times.
With this album, Korwar expands his politicised narrative to envelop the entire diaspora. “This is a modern brown record. The kind of record that a contemporary Indian living in the UK for the past 10 years would make,” Korwar says. “This is what Indian music sounds like to me right now, and that means incorporating multiple brown voices. If anyone has a problem with that, they should be questioning what they think Indian music should be.”
More Arriving is a spellbinding concoction of Korwar’s undulating percussion with, among others, The Comet is Coming’s Danalogue on synths, Tamar Osborn’s baritone sax, Indo-jazz specialist Al MacSween, and – crucially – the voices of the brown diaspora. Recorded over two and a half years in India and the UK, the album draws on the nascent rap scenes of Mumbai and New Delhi, which Korwar became fascinated with while travelling in India in 2016, and features many of its most exciting artists.