Monday, March 7, 2022

Indie Music: Arnab Sengupta "Leap of Faith"

by Germar Derron

Arnab Sengupta's Leap of Faith reminds me of an episode of an obscure reality show from years ago. In that episode, a promoter sold his act, successfully, while refusing to describe what it was. He said things like, "trust me," "he does it all," "your audience will LOVE him." The promoter was correct.

Sengupta can't be defined easily in any way that is common or fits a tradition. Typical descriptions don't do this project justice. Leap of Faith is instrumental, it's vocal, it's jazz, it's experimental, it's funk, it's meditative, and it's sometimes unpolished. But most importantly it's good--you'll like it.

Overall, the album offers a clear and clean sound. Even though it's unambiguously multi-genre, the songs fit together in a way that produces a pristine picture. Parts of the project sound like the garage-band version of . . . Leap of Faith. But not in an unsophisticated teen noise way. It's more like when an unknown artist covers a hit song, then records it on an old 4-track recorder.  And from that point on, everyone seems to prefer that 4-track version over the original. Raw. Real. 

Specifically, throughout the album, the vocals aren't stacked or overly treated. Sometimes they're downright ragged, in a way that only exists in jazz. And that works well here. A couple of tracks are carried by a beautiful vocal and melody.  And that vocal has a unique sort of range. It sits right beside the sound of a rawer young El Debarge. Of course, there are high and low notes on whatever scale. But it's warm and bright, thin and thick. And the instruments, of all types, are not neglected here. 

Even though this is indie and small-scale, some pieces are huge--theatrical. At least one song feels like it's live from a low-pressure jazz club--friends enjoying life. Songs start with nasty (as in nice) piano melodies and end with brass straight from a big band.

Leap of Faith is a cool experience. And even if this isn't your cup of tea, I can't imagine many people asking anyone to skip a track.


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