The classical music circuit in Chennai and elsewhere is getting increasingly competitive, now that this art form is once again gaining popular status. Use of the word prodigy is boring. Kids do big things early and in classical music circuit, it means singing/ playing complex patterns, difficult compositions and most significantly by playing them fast. There are numerous musicians including some in the top tier, who went on to prove their virtuosity by making speed their forte. There is nothing right or wrong about it.

But these two musicians — Sikkil Gurucharan and Anil Srinivasan — created themselves a niche by doing the opposite — pick up rare and beautiful compositions and play it slow. Rather than pack more phrases in the same minute, they chose to play fewer lines, but with beauty and perspective. They let you take a holy dip in the ocean of music. That’s what their genre is. They have created a handful of albums in this genre and Tarunam (Tamil for Moment) is the latest.

Anil (piano) and Sikkil (vocals) feature in all their albums, amalgamating east and west without compromising the beauty of either. In addition, Tarunam features BS Purushothaman on Kanjira and Dominique Di Piazza on bass. Dominique is a bassist par excellence, with repertoire including John McLaughlin’s several works, most significantly the trio effort with Trilok Gurtu.

There are 6 songs in this album:

  • Naan Oru Vilayattu — “Am I a toy in your hands” — Navarasa Kanada — Papanasam Sivan — 8:30
  • Akam — “Longing” — ??? — The Akanaanuru (400 poems) — 9:50
  • Kongu Thaer Vazhkai — “Honey Winged Gatherer” — Kalyani — Kuruntokai (Tamil Sangam) — 5:30
  • Chinnan Chiru Pen Pole — “Like a Little Child” — Sindhu Bhairavi — Ulundurpettai Shanmugasundaram — 6:05
  • Naadavindu — “The Origin of Origins” — Senjurutti — Arunagirinathar — 8:50
  • Ekkalathilum — “For All Time” — Nattai Kurinji — Tiruvarur Ramaswamy Pillai — 11:20

(Legend: Track Name — English Meaning — Ragam — Composer/Author — Track Length)

Like I always say, music can only be described in context. Music itself cannot be expressed, other than musically. I would recommend this album to anybody that has an open mind. Forget the burden of having to know music to appreciate it, forget the language borders and forget the format borders. Just plug it in and forget yourself.

My favorite picks are #4 (bcoz of the song itself), #5 (hats off to Dominique) and #1 (the lyrical mood of the song).

If you would like to buy the album, just go to Kalakendra and buy it for near-free ($4.55)

At any rate, the best I have seen from these two musicians is Blue Divine, featuring Murad Ali Khan on Sarangi.