Playlist: Soumik Datta

Following the release of his latest track Tiger Tiger, we asked composer, presenter and virtuoso sarod player, Soumik Datta, to make us a playlist.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 22 May 2020
  • min read

Mumbai-born, London-based sarod-player and composer Soumik Datta is renowned for his explorations into different genres and styles, combining Indian classical melodies with colourful, contemporary sounds.

Last month, Soumik released his latest track Tiger Tiger. Speaking about the track, he explains: ‘Tiger Tiger is the finale to this collection of songs, featuring many of the same instruments with additional electronic textures and samples of forest fires. It is a response to man’s continual destruction of nature. This track imagines the roar of animals as they speed through the forest watching their homes on fire.’

We asked Soumik Datta to make us a playlist for this bank holiday weekend. 

Tune in. 

Nitin Sawhney - Sunset

Nitin, who has remained a friend, mentor and collaborator over the years, painted a masterpiece with this track, layering bansuri, tabla, blues, harmonised Bengali vocals and the feeling of a never-ending sunset. For me, as a young British Bengali growing up in London, this was an anthem.

Shakti - Mind Ecology

Shakti has remained one of my favourite groups over the years. Their mastery, emotion and power is unlike anything else out there! John McLaughlin’s effected guitar layered over Ustad Zakir Hussain’s tabla is a sound buried deep in my heart.

Chris Thile - Here and Heaven

Few musicians can bridge technical command with playfulness. Chris Thile is an aspiration for me and many of my contemporaries. And even here, in a record that features many other musical masters, Chris’ voice and harmonies soar through my soul. I really can't hear this track enough. Watch out for that genius accidental note in the chorus!

Anoushka Shankar - Traces of You

A memorial to the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, Anoushka pours her soul into this one. Her sitar sings, weeps, dances and rejoices in memory of her father. The lyrics 'Play me like a rain cloud/ Sounds upon the air’ sum up the intangible, infinite love that bind us all to our parents. A remarkable and courageous work from a dear friend.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali - Aayat

Few film directors also score music to their pictures. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of those rare artists who combine classical Indian melodies with sounds that augment the emotions behind his scenes. Casting Arijit Singh to sing this particular song only meant that Aayat would go down in the annals of history as one of the most magnificent film soundtracks ever made. 

Pepe Habichuela & The Bollywood Strings - Yerbaguena - Occidente

I don’t know where this CD came from, but I found it in my parents’ home and loved the quality of its recording. Habichuela and his guitar were alive, embellished by a colourful string arrangement. The mix of bowed strings and plucked guitar was an absolute sonic delight, one that subconsciously inspired by album, King of Ghosts

Talvin Singh - Butterfly

I’ll never forget the day Talvin called me on the phone and invited me on his European tour. I was still at university at the time. We played many of his tracks including Butterfly which I will always cherish. On the original the melody is played on the veena and transposing it to sarod was an experience that cemented by love for '90s Asian Underground drum'n'bass.  

Radiohead - Everything In Its Right Place

Perhaps one of the best productions I’ve ever heard, what I love most about this song is that there is an unmistakable drive and yet it features almost no percussion. The invisible rhythm is a pulse upon which you float, believing that yes, everything is indeed in its rightful place. The genius of the band isn’t just in creating mysterious sounds but also in indulging in the mystery that is music. 

Radiohead - Bodysnatchers 

The distorted melodies of this song say it all. This was the soundtrack of my awakening, in my late teens, from being a diligent music student to becoming curious about sound, noise, fragmented audio, overdriven guitars and allowing music to carry trauma, pain and rage away. 

Buddhadev Das Gupta - Bageshri 

Here’s a traditional rendition of the beautiful Indian classical raga Bagesri played on sarod by my teacher and guru, Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta. I heard this track at least 300 times while accompanying my teacher on his concert tour in Sweden. I was seventeen and could hardly play. He was teaching me this raga at the time and something about these notes will always remind of that sun flared summer in Stockholm learning from the master himself, about music and performance.