A journey into the rhythmic world of the tabla.
Vibhaas is better known as the percussionist in the excellent Mammal Hands. Jesse Barratt has been on his own musical journey alongside his usual music creation though and that’s where Vibhaas comes in. He has been studying the tabla under London based Tabla maestro, Pandit Sirishkumar Manji. ‘Master Healer’ is Vibhaas’ debut EP and it is a wonderful expression of the instrument.
Each track on the EP tackles the tabla in a different way. In the opener ‘Hiran’ it lives openly and freely over a gentle piano and humming drones. In ‘Temple Cloud’ the rhythms come from electric snaps and weird tuned blocks that evoke a mixture of hollow bells and plastic tables. Again over the top of these deep grooves are lush long-tail piano notes and drifting drones. It is melodic but keeps you focused on the rhythm over everything else. ‘Ancient’ places birdsong front and centre in the mix and moves a deeply resonant bass drum to the distance. It feels like a rumbling taiko drum from 500 meters away beckoning you to a ceremony.
‘Heelflip’ is the longest piece on the release and is a darker electronica piece. Trip-hop beats mask buzzing basslines and mysterious plucks of a zither. Like all the songs on the EP, it doesn’t follow a typical song structure. It’s more like a movement of energy and power as the music evolves. As the electronic drums build, the tabla joins in to give more of a rounded depth on the track. ‘Tulik’ closes out the EP with the most Western track. Here synths and guitars move to the fore over rolling tabla recordings. The way Vibhaas uses production changes to shift a tabla into a more wooden and then synthetic sound across the piece is inspired. The tabla changes form from line to line, keeping you on your toes as the melodic part of the track waivers and contorts itself.
Vibhaas definitely has struck a chord here. Taking the tabla and placing it into interesting electronic ambient soundscapes that are rhythm first, melody second leads to something that’s both relaxing and groovy. It is oddly sensual as well, but then I love playing tabla’s myself and find the way you use your body to create the groove an engrossing experience. Fans of Mammal Hands and ambient world music will love this. I hope there’s more to come in the future.
Recommended track: Temple Cloud
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