Transcending the barriers of language and yet oozing tons of international appeal, Avial’s self titled album has all it takes to make a legend. Each of the 8 songs is either beautifully introspective in content or absolutely stunning in terms of musical expertise. While there is nothing really wrong with any of the tracks, there are some that simply stand out for brilliance.
Karukara is a masterpiece for the simple reason that the very typically Carnatic guitar tone, with its ease of melody and serenity in sound, seems to naturally make way for the heavy distortion guitar that the song plunges into. The ease of transition is unexpected and yet pleasantly surprising. The female vocals on this one are crude to a mesmerising degree. Definitely one of guitarist Rex Vijayan’s best. Njan Aara, which is in fact a ballad, is another delectable favourite with a very funky and yet subdued bass line, showcasing bassist Naresh Kamath’s undeniable mastery over the instrument. The song’s meaning, once translated for non speakers of Malayalam, is unusually intense, speaking of the questioning of one’s identity. The repetition of the words Njan Aara (who am I), has a haunting effect although what really makes the song a pleasure to listen to are the beautiful vocal harmonies and the perfect string sections. The use of a certain horn instrument called the naadhaswaram definitely adds a rustic element without trying too hard. Chekele explores a slightly funky groove with its bass and synths. While it is only fair to argue that vocals on this one sound a tad unnatural or forced, the song is remarkably groovy and catchy. Ettam Pattu, the final song on the album, is a remarkable way to close a set. Subdued, laidback, melodic and absolutely relaxing, this song makes for a great listen on a rainy afternoon. Tony John’s vocals, while not as crude and rustic as former vocalist Anand’s, do justice to the song by lending it the creaminess in texture that a song like this would demand.
Enough said, this album has left very little for critiques to really criticise. It would take years of experience and tremendous effort to find anything wrong with the album. Production quality on this one is way superior to any Indian album we have ever heard and who would have thought that 8 long Malayalam songs would appeal to and captivate such a large audience who don’t understand a single word of what’s being sung? It is said that music breaks barriers and this album is true testimony of that very belief.