"Rowthiram Pazhagu" is Harini Iyer's latest melodic fantasia.
Rendered with a cultured touch and designed with exemption from all things mundane or dull, this Chennai intoner uses her professionally disciplined vocals to manifest the World Music that speaks to her creative soul.
With Western influences drawn from Nai Palm, Solange Knowles, and Nina Simone, the inherent vocal craft Iyer displays in her musical compositions feel fresh in the way they leave behind an enamoring after-glow.
On her latest cut, the professional vocalist dips into her network of capable and enthusiastic musicians, recruiting Han Beyli and his attached Azerbaijani influences, fitting perfectly with the fleshy sentiment "Rowthiram Pazhagu" produces all over our skin.
A sonorous melody that inaugurates over an enchanted dominant hymn glides over the affecting and constant fleshy harmonics that cascade over this mix's expansiveness. The World Music sonics amalgamate over a contemporary arrangement of warm saturated bass, subtle guitar fingerings, and the chanteuse's impassioned hymnology.
But what's most notable is the rhythm here; sustained through the captivating tonality of the Tabla, a pair of twin hand-drums from the Indian subcontinent. While Harini sings her uplifting incantations in a traditional mannerism reminiscent of her native culture, the twin-drums synergize over the bass guitar as it tumbles over an enthralling scale with dexterity reminiscent of Thundercat over his six-string hollow-body.
"Rowthiram Pazhagu" is captivating from one turn into the next, and Iyer's cantor is enamoring and cohesive all the way through while echoing within the reflective walls of this mystifying fantasia of World-Music experience.
What's most striking about this track is the ethos behind its central broadcasts. The title, "Rowthiram Pazhagu," is naturally a reference to the transcendent Tamil elegist Mahakavi Bharathiyaar, and his quote about righteous indignation, translating approximately to "learn to get angry," and it's a sentiment that lands as profoundly on our engorged heartstrings as her English and Tamil intoning vocal performances.
Hello Harini and welcome to BuzzMusic. What's been the most fulfilling part about working together with HanBeyli for this track?
Even though this was our first time working together, there already existed a rapport and trust which was surprising. Han’s musicianship and high work ethics apart, he has this beautiful quality of trusting the process and just letting the collaborator do their thing. That was empowering because we just went with the flow, not trying to control any bit inorganically.
What fuels your creative intuitions when it comes to blending your culture's textural sonic with some of the Western world's more contemporary sounds?
I grew up learning Indian Classical ( Carnatic) music but have been heavily influenced by Western pop and RnB. As we moved a lot in India, I was exposed to different cultures from an early age and soon that became a way of life. It is my personality to learn and blend different cultures and I guess my music exudes that quality too.
Why did you feel that highlighting the messages and sentiments you focused on within this track was important right now?
This song was birthed because of the emotions that not only I but we, as a collective conscience are going through currently. This year has been tough on multiple levels- personal, political, and social. The song is about dealing with fears that arise from conventional norms that go unchecked and are followed blindly by us on a personal level. The focus is around how revolution really begins within oneself first, and then it is just a matter of time before it turns into a domino effect. So, let’s look fear in the eye and face that shit together!
What kinds of collaborators will you be working with next, and can we anticipate an Extended Play reaching us from you anytime soon?
I have a bunch of new music coming out real soon. I am working on a few more songs with Han and we have been discussing a potential EP in the near future. I am currently in the process of releasing a guitar- voice duo track with a collaborator from Berlin. I have also been working on a song with Jatayu, a Chennai based Carnatic Jazz-Rock quartet. So, stay in the loop for more information!
What has been keeping you inspired throughout 2020?
To be completely honest, I have settled pretty well into this calm, laid back lifestyle where I am focusing on growth as a person and a musician. I have been working out and doing yoga regularly and I am excited to be able to get all this time to release more music!