Patel, a member of underappreciated emocore outfit Before Braille, steps out from behind the group setting and assembles a varied collection of stringed and percussive instruments to create an unassuming work of Middle Eastern-hued experimental folk music. Patel can also be found in side project The Retaliation For What They Have Done To Us, whose sole self-titled release was an arresting exercise in sonic subtlety and movie score bliss. Both solo releases and The Retaliation are quite the odd choices for Sunset Alliance to put out but that’s the beauty in non-specialty record labels. Always a surprise to be had if you have the patience and tolerance to respect thinking outside the box.
The album opens with a short introduction of sounds to come then smoothly transitions into ‘Ten Thousand Lakes’, which features some toned-down slide guitar and is easily the most playful piece on the album. The guitar play reminded me a lot of Leo Kottke’s work on Standing In My Shoes and Peculiaroso or, dare I say, Snuffy Walden’s guitar interludes on the TV show 7th Heaven. “Mountain Standard Time’ cleverly mixes some drum and vox samples, super clean guitar and sparse melodica. I am having a hard time describing just how warm and beautiful this song is. Simply amazing. This mix of instrumentation is pretty much a staple throughout the album. The percussion varies with tabla on a few songs, standard kit drumming on ‘The Wheat Looks Good This Year’ and mad bongo-beating like on ‘Horseride On The City’, which also happens to contain the only singing on the album.
When I first sampled the album on CDBaby I thought that perhaps 30 minutes of this would be off-putting but that is not the case after 4 solid listens. Patel never overwhelms the listener with his technical prowess but instead merely paints pictures for the listener to interpret as he or she chooses. I really don’t get the feeling Rajiv is holding anything back which leads me to believe this is coming straight from the heart, as opposed to catering to any select audience. My only gripe with the album being no vital information was included with the CD. I had to do some thorough digging online to find out any info on credits as my copy was purchased and didn’t include any press sheet. With music this interesting I guess there’s no need for such frivolities. I can’t really compare this to anything else I’ve heard recently which speaks volumes for its creativity. Though this may mean I have some catching up to do when it comes to Middle Eastern folk music. Regardless, we could all do well to immerse ourselves in the fluidic motion of Obey The Cattle!.