- Complex and lovely synth compositions inspired by Hindustani classical music and made for moments of self-actualization.
- Modular synth artist Arushi Jain is a student of Hindustani classical music, a style native to Northern India, though her music occupies a space of its own. Born in India, Jain crafts richly-hued ambient compositions that invoke devotion, longing, grandeur and grace. These seismic emotions belie the simple arrangements of her tracks, which mostly consist of looping synths, expansive atmospherics, rumbling drone and her own dulcet vocals that often feel like her second instrument.
While her music is far from Hindustani classical, the tradition deeply influences her creative process. The ancient art form uses melodic frameworks known as raags or ragas, a collection of notes, motifs and patterns that artists use to write music. A raag is associated with a certain mood and is meant to be played at a specific time of day. For instance, raag Bhairavi is a morning composition and feels peaceful while raag Bhimpalasi is meant for afternoons with its tender and romantic tone. These timely rituals, which define Jain's music, signify "when the environment around you is most in tune with your own sound and breath," the artist described in a press statement. Raags can support "you in realizing your vision of the moment," she added.
Her sophomore album and debut for Los Angeles' Leaving Records, Under the Lilac Sky, does exactly that. Influenced by evening raags and intended for sunset, its languorous pace and inherent warmth slows down your brain, a process critical to achieving inner clarity. Once our thoughts have softened to a distant lull, it's usually much easier to make decisions based on instinct rather than emotion. Jain's work is a vehicle to get closer to ourselves. There's a quality of vastness to her music that seems to pause time and block out external noise. We're brought closer to our natural state, "as a camel moves when it's been untied, and is just ambling about," as the poet Rumi once wrote.
Throughout its six tracks, Under the Lilac Sky eases us into this intuitive disposition whilst simultaneously preparing us for the night's darkness. This mental journey fits in with the unbridled potential of evening time—a period of reflection for the day that's just passed and joyous excitement for what's to come. The album's opener, "Richer Than Blood," captures the first stage of this voyage. By contrasting raspy drone, distant buzzing and background siren-like sounds with Jain's falsetto notes, it's like a portrait of the mind as it attempts to silence distractions.
The second phase, represented through "Look How Far We Have Come" and the following "The Sun Swirls Within You," brings us to child-like curiosity and wonder with cascading synth melodies that welcome those first streaks of orange, pink and gold in the sky. Once "My People Have Deep Roots" hits, we're approaching the twilight stage where the sky's bright hues have been replaced with inky shades of violet. This is a time for contemplation, and while the track feels more sombre than its predecessors amid bass echoes and guttural droning, Jain's mellifluous vocals are a reminder that darkness has its rewarding moments, too. The final compositions, "Cultivating Self Love" and the title track, pick up on playful synth melodies once again but unlike their ecstatic earlier counterparts, these refrains are more dramatic and meditative in nature, signifying the final chapter of our trek to achieve clarity.
Like sunsets, Under the Lilac Sky is full of subtle shades and gradients that only reveal themselves after multiple listens. A postcard documenting a particular place and time, this full-length follows in the footsteps of textural composers such as Suzanne Ciani and Mary Lattimore. Even with its lack of drums and its gentle demeanour, the LP is deeply immersive and works well for just about any activity—meditation, brushing off the work day or simply preparing yourself for a busy night ahead. As Jain describes, Under A Lilac Sky is "best heard while you take a moment to do what you love.”
01. Richer Than Blood
02. Look How Far We Have Come
03. The Sun Swirls Within You
04. My People Have Deep Roots
05. Cultivating Self Love
06. Under The Lilac Sky