2 April 2020
EP Rating 4.5 / 5
Live Potential 4.5 / 5
Solo Performances 5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 4 / 5
Favourite Songs Pick It Up, Dwob Dwob 2 (Forbidden Fruit)
Leeds jazz crossover quintet Yaatri have released Reach, their debut EP that expertly sets the listener into a mood of meditation and peace through drifting ambient soundscapes blended with the Indian classical and the Scandinavian jazz tradition.
Yaatri occupy a distinct position in the Leeds jazz scene, rather than offering some hip-hop, afrobeat and neo-soul touches like contemporaries Necktr, Têtes de Pois, Mamilah and TC & The Groove Family, their sound is a lot more celestial and really focuses on pushing your spirit into finding an inner tranquility and to relax. This approach has found success in helping to secure places in Manchester Jazz Festival’s Hothouse, the Jazz North Introduces scheme, and Leeds College of Music’s Artist Development Program.
They have performed gigs around the UK in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Marsden, Lancaster, Liverpool, and London, with performance highlights including opening 2020’s Liverpool International Jazz Festival, playing to the packed Mechanic’s Hall in Marsden, and performing to an enthusiastic audience at their London debut at the Royal Albert. Their debut singles released in 2019 that feature on this EP even found features internationally in Rolling Stone India, revealing a universal attraction to their music.
'Waiting on the Sun' was the first single and instantly captures the key elements of their music; Felix Bertulis-Webb's keys providing a Scandi-atmospheric chill alongside guitarist and composer Liam DeTar's intricate guitar picking that usually is in a constant conversation with the delicate vocal scatting of Beth Herrington (B-ahwe). Young Indian musician Zuheb Ahmed Khan adds the flavour of Indian classical with his tabla playing and this song has a feeling of elevation that are emphasised by Herrington's lyric-less vocals. Where there are lyrics, DeTar stated in an interview how “the lyrics on Reach, all written by Beth, explore the pressures of people and society, retrospectively processing experiences and states of mind to see the bigger picture.” The ambient vibes certainly provide a contemplative mood to explore these themes.
'Dwob Dwob 2 (Forbidden Fruit)' has a melancholic dialogue between Herrington and DeTar before Jona Tromp introduces the brushes to sweep you up into the wraps of warm melody. This tune incorporates rock elements to it as it changes up the groove, and this gives way for another imaginative solo from DeTar that weaves through like an elaborate labyrinth of jazz. Khan features tabla again on this and also on 'Riddoem' as it provides the driving pulse with Tromp's rim shots as another heavy rock half-time beat breaks up the track. 'Broken' again merges rock with ambient soundscapes as the second half of the song is perhaps the most calming sections of the EP, as the waterfall percussion trickles along with the noodling ride and Herrington's bending vocals.
'Pick It Up' was the second single and is the standout track on Reach, as it has an urgency to it that enters with Khan's tabla and the synth that teases with little surges after Herrington's singing quickly matches DeTar's guitar pattern. She has an extraordinary ability to sing as high-pitched as she does, and this never ceases to amaze me nor sound repetitive as it really compliments the ambiance of the group. Joe Wilkes introduces a delightful breakdown on the bass and the whole group add extra firepower dynamically to push the sound to the drop of 'Pick It Up' to finish the song and EP.
With most the songs written in 2018 when the group formed, Yaatri have achieved a balance between ambient openness and propulsive metric sophistication as Reach weaves through an array of influences including heavy rock, Indian classical music and contemporary jazz to take the listener on an introspective journey. Largely recorded in a single afternoon by Andy Hawkins at the Nave Studios in March 2019, at the core of every track is an interactive and energetic live performance; this is enhanced through the additions of synthesizers, guitars, percussion, backing vocals and tape delays, as well as Zuheb Ahmed Khan's tabla that was recorded at Island City Studios in Mumbai.
Whilst their UK spring tour has had to be postponed due to the coronavirus situation, Reach can provide you with a reassuring serenity that relaxes you through complex compositions that induce a strong sense of purpose and journey.
Buy and listen to Reach here:
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