Friday, 9 July 2010

Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Dharohar Project EP

This one's for the iTunes users only, apparently, as a four-track EP created by Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling goes up for download this week. There were a few teething problems on the planned launch date, but Mumford & Sons say everything's in place now and working just fine.

Actually, iTunes might be the only place to buy the EP, but it's not the only place you can hear it - all four tracks are currently available on Spotify, so you can get a preview before deciding whether or not to splash out on a digital copy of your own.

High Points

Let's be honest, four tracks is not long to have any particular high points - at least, not much higher than the rest. However, I'd say the best is saved for last on this collection. Final track Meheni Rachi starts with the influences of the Far East that define the whole EP, before the introduction gives way to a catchy guitar riff and familiar lyrical syrup of Laura Marling.

Of course, having Mumford & Sons on the virtual cover is also a massive plus. One of the few artists to have a playlist of their own in my own collection of digital tracks, rather than being consigned to a pool of genre or era-related artists, Mumford & Sons have carved a niche for themselves quickly in the heartfelt vocals and stripped-down guitar realm. If the Eastern influences of this EP are not for you, try After The Storm from Sigh No More as a more conventional but truly inspiring track.

The Verdict

I'm no huge fan of Indian music - it often seems to be tuneless warbling to me - but I am expanding my horizons on that one. It takes time to know what's good, what's bad and what's middle of the road. In these four tracks, I think the really interesting aspect is how the Eastern influences stand against the artists' regular country and folk influences.

To differing degrees, each track features some of both, and it makes for an intriguing and unique perspective on how Western and Eastern music can combine without obliterating one another. With the assured vocal performances of the contributors, it makes for a slightly odd but enjoyable quarter-hour of music.

Downsides - no hardcopy option. I like to hold a CD, to covet it, to press my face against its cool surface and commit every second of its music to memory as though I could will it into my brain from the pitted underside of the disc itself. No chance of doing that with this purely digital download - but yes, I know I'm a dinosaur to expect a physical release of every track published in the modern music industry. Other than that, the only complaint is that it's too short. A full album would have been an audacious move, given the subject matter, but could have set a standard that might have weathered the tests of time well. As it is, the EP will probably fade from memory relatively quickly - which is something of a shame.

Final Score: 66%

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