There are a few odd and almost indefinable generic terms in music, handles used mainly by lazy journalists, like myself, to easily box music, the draw lines of demarcation in an effort to say it is one thing or another. Of all of them the worst is the term “world music”…music that is representative of a culture or a place and therefore meaning something different to every one who hears the word. But maybe world music is actually something else all together…maybe it isn’t music from one part of the planet or another but music which is built from various sounds garnered from all corners of the globe…corners of a globe? Well, you know what I mean.
The fact that Ajay was born in India, lives in Switzerland, that he weaves pieces of pop with rock, blends of eastern instrumentation and western folk traditions, loose psychedelia with rigid structured grooves, plunders the past just as much as he looks to the future, means that he is the perfect world citizen to be able to truly create this new world genre. A genre where east meets west, where worlds collide, where occident dances with orient.
Forget About Yesterday sums up his ability to cross genres and borders perfectly, tabla beats and wailing blues harmonicas, pastel hippy-pop warmth and a looping funky groove beating at its heart and Ordinary Memory sounds as if R.E.M. relocated to the outskirts of Bangalore at the end of the nineties. There are straighter Americana infused songs such as All Your Thoughts, a real end of the night bar room sing-along and the wonderfully named My Wallet is a House of Cards is a stomping blues-rocker.
The real charm of the album is that even though it covers a lot of ground stylistically, just compare the late-night jazz vibes of Grooving In Paris with the retro-folk-pop of While I’m Standing Here, it has a cohesive quality, each song, no matter where it leans generically feels like a necessary part of the whole album. I’ve tried to avoid using the B word, but it has the same sort of breath-taking diversity and exploratory nature as the later Beatles album and for once I feel that such a comparison is no mere rhetoric or hyperbole, Little Boat really is a gem of an album.
So, maybe this is a new genre, more likely it is an acknowledgement that genres don’t really exist or if they do they are a hinderance to musicians creativity rather than a guide. Whatever the answer, Little Boat is an album everyone should hear…today…right now…go and buy it this instant, you’ll thank me later. You will….