Album Reviews

Koushik – Out My Window

(Stones Throw) UK release date: 13 October 2008

Koushik Ghosh describes himself as an environmental mathematician. Now if you were being presumptuous, you might think a calculated piece of music designed to save the planet wouldn’t be up to much – but relax now, for this isn’t Sting with an abacus.

Think DJ Shadow, throw in an intriguing mixture of musical influences of a similarly broad canvas and you get closer to the sound – but fully describing Koushik’s approach proves more elusive than you might expect. What is clear is that in his time he’s absorbed a whole load of music, and in that sense he brings to mind artists such as Prefuse 73. Koushik’s sources, mind, tend to be more 60s-based, his beats less inclined to drop as hip hop.

The spectre of The Doors is occasionally glimpsed. Even shoegaze gets a look-in. There are bits of psychedelia round the edges; now and then the sound of distracted brass comes into view. Brief harmonica solos take the foreground before they fizzle out, while scattered drumming brings the occasional burst of energy. With every new sound and style an album you might be desperate to pigeon hole as another in a long line of horizontal chill out records turns out to have far more substance.

Neither is it a musical magpie, for Koushik carefully arranges the different styles of music to blend together as a whole – no skipping tracks here, from the meditative beginnings of Morning Comes that bring the sunrise through to the dreamy title track. Where the author supplies vocals he does so in a distracted, half-asleep fashion – but in a way that brings pockets of emotion rather than monotone boredom.

Occasionally his work doesn’t fully develop, as in the stumbling rhythm of Buttaflybeat, cutting off before it really gets going, but when it fully blossoms, as in the sighing Ifoundu, there is a far-off beauty, drawing perhaps on the scope of Phil Spector. Meanwhile the lush scoring of Be With is a treat on the ears, particularly when it fades out to a softly thrumming harp, while Bright And Shining makes a few concessions to 1960s soul, the brass affectionately indulged.

As the cover might imply, this is an early morning, blue sky record, but stops a long way short of new age cheesiness. For Koushik has produced that rare thing, an album with which to relax while admiring its musical content. To manage all that naturally, without trying too hard, is no mean achievement.

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Koushik – Out My Window