Arun Ghosh – Primal Odyssey | Album Review

Trying to describe the music of London born Bolton bred Clarinettist Arun Ghosh, like trying to describe the colours in a lightening bolt while you’re being struck by it, generally isn’t a good idea. But for the purposes of informing you of his second LP Primal Odyssey, I am, of course, going to have to…

Having received rave reviews and global appreciation for his first album Northern Namaste, Ghosh seems to have returned for his second with the urgency of a fistfight. Wailing horns that blow like sirens, intrepid drum solos that bruise the air, fast and dizzying arrangements that could potentially spin the listener into a sonic frenzy; Primal Odyssey is more like a musical call to arms then a Jazz record. Which is good. After all who wants another Jazz album when you can have a luscious, esoteric riot of sounds flavoured with Indian influences ranging from Nitin Sawhney to Ravi Shankar?

That isn’t to say there are not pensive moments on the record. Some of these are in fact it’s finest. Track three; titled ‘Yerma’ is a key example. Its chilled Middle Eastern feel is reminiscent of multi instrumentalist Lloyd Miller’s experiments with Oriental Jazz, while Ghosh’s clarinet solo floats searchingly in a style similar to Pharoah Sanders’ haunting saxophone arrangements. Also in this category is the sublime closing song ‘Nocturne (Chandra Dhun)’, which definitely represents Ghosh at his most playful and perhaps meditative. The track is in fact the only one not conceived by him alone as Chrys Chijiutomi shares the credit for composition.

Despite the above it is the LP’s courageous opening ‘Caliban’s Revenge’ that steals the show. This is the one that highlights Ghosh at his most frenetic and primal, the one in which his Clarinet might as well be a bow that throws out flaming arrows. Pat Illingworth hits the drums with conviction, Iiran Donin’s bass summons wild, thick vibrations and Idris Rahman’s Saxophone along with Shabaka Hutchings’ Bass Clarinet adds fuel to the monstrous engine that the band together have created.

The closest Primal Odyssey comes to having a real flaw is perhaps in the stark contrast between its high-spirited tracks and its slightly more introspective moments. I doubt there are many listeners who will want to embrace both in one listen and many will end up skipping tracks for this reason. Not that this takes anything away from the songs themselves. For each one is a rich and imaginative venture of almost mythic proportions.

Arun Ghosh – Primal Odyssey
Released: October 31, 2011
Label: Camoci Records
Buy: iTunes UK / iTunes US / Amazon UK