Not being able to slot things into genres is a thing that happens rarely. More so when it comes to music for we live in times where being the ‘new’ old thing is what makes it easier. Acquired Senses, the debut album of HFT band, is the perfect antithesis to what the Indian non-Hindi and non-filmy music world has become.
This year has been a good one for Indian bands and along with Advaita’s maiden outing (Ground in Space), Acquired Senses is one of the most hearable albums of the year. The seven tracks of this very welcome and aptly titled album showcase HFT band’s definitive sound.
For a very long time now HFT band with its two pillars in the form of Arjun Sen and Lew Hilt have been highly sought after acts in India. Anyone who’s interested in the jazz and blues music scene in the country is sure to have been blown away by the sheer prowess of Sen’s guitar.
And when you have Lew Hilt, one of the earliest rock musicians of India, you know you are listening to something special. The band is known to be highly original and their compositions transcend genres making it extremely tricky to pin these guys.
Track by track analysis of ‘Acquired Senses’ album
Evenly placed the album kicks off with Heaven Earth, a smooth jazzy track that is highlighted by Hilt’s excellent bass. Changing gears immediately, Small Story infuses fusion elements with tanpura strains in the background.
This album is nothing short of a journey and each subsequent track discards the boundaries to travel in different directions.
It’s with Circles that you finally realize the genius of HFT band. A fantastic composition Circles showcases the mainstay of HFT–unlike bands that vie for perfect harmony between them, one gets to see the disparity between the bass and the lead which, in fact, is exactly what makes them co-exist.
Aided by Sam Shullai’s composed percussion, this eight minute track is what it’s all about. Just like its name, Idlis on a Camel is experimental enough to venture into strange spaces.
Lead by Shullai’s drumming and Hilt’s heavy bass, Sen is in his element with Yet A Surprise, the track that binds this album. This fine classically ‘bluesy’ track is mighty infectious and peaks this album.
What separates HFT band from the contemporaries is, they are a highly polished act and yet they maintain the rawness that one seeks.
This isn’t a band in a tearing hurry to prove any point and thank God for that. No Room to Move recreates the breezy mood of the first track and with the final tack (I Rest My Case) the trio just winds it all in a grand manner.
If you have heard someone mentioning of late that Indian music scene is changing, chances are this is what they meant.
‘Acquired Senses’ album Rating: 4/5