It’s not very often that a piece of music presents something new with almost each listen. That, I think, is one of the hallmarks of great music. “Southern Skies Motel” by Farfetch’d manages that very well.
The album might on first listen seem like a showcase of finger-style guitaring. But soon you’ll realise that as delicious as the guitar-play is, the music is more layered and richer. More than just the musicianship, this album shines through as a display of the compositional skills of Akash Murthy, whose solo project Farfetch’d is. Although the album is broken down conventionally into songs, it need not be. What is really interesting is that you can play the album in any order of the songs without the whole losing coherence. Each song is itself a multi-movement piece and I’ve gone to the extent of breaking them and refitting them in various combinations and yet the album sounds remarkably cogent. Fascinating stuff! If you haven’t heard the album as you read this, you won’t be faulted for thinking that if it can be done, then it must be because the music is of such stultifying monotony that moving parts around does not affect the flow. But the truth is that the music is very varied – in pace, in structure, in rhythm. That you can reconfigure the album and yet have it sound ‘together’ is the greatness of this work. At no point does Farfetch’d allow the listener’s interest to flag – Akash has even taken care to use his voice to good effect on a couple of pieces. Yet with much going on, the music does not feel overwrought – just beautifully and intelligently balanced. This album is so strong that any flaw that one could point out will look silly and be an exercise in nitpicking. One of the best albums that I’ve heard this year.
Try and listen to it on the headphone as well as on speakers.
P.S.: It’s been a little over an year since I last wrote on this blog – never mind the reasons. I couldn’t have picked a better piece of music to get back to writing.