Toronto Tabla Ensemble – Unexpected Guests

Inspired by a litany of different artistic substances throughout the pop spectrum, ranging from the seductive sounds of an eastern harmony to a hint of punishing palm-muted destruction coming from the electrified string section, Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s “What’s Going On?” is hardly a standard-straddling composition.

Much like the other songs on the group’s new record Unexpected Guests, “What’s Going On?” is a lot more reliant on texture and tonality over conventional elements in constructing a narrative for us to dig into here, but for those of us with a taste for the erudite, its complex accessibility should serve no challenge this July.

I absolutely love the eclecticism of this tracklist. From the brisk beats of “Maryem’s Here” to the multifaceted swinging groove in “Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble” and the crushingly adrenaline-packed gaze of “Monkey Tale,” these songs are the sort you can put on and just get lost in without having to afford a lot of attention to any of the intricacies within the music. Fans of sonic detail will find no shortage of experimental qualities to behold here, but others who simply want something to get hypnotized by will likely share my sentiments when I call this one of the more captivating records of its kind out right now.

There are some pretty angular harmonies in the sitar-centric “Raghupati,” the bagpipes-adorned title cut and the aforementioned treat “What’s Going On?,” but these tracks are undeniably balanced by the fluid arrangements found in the likes of “Dream Symposium” and “Maryem’s Here.”

The music video for “Unexpected Guests” is another example of theatrics mixed with lean, mean artistry (which is difficult to pull off even for the most talented of artists). Toronto Tabla Ensemble strike me as being the kind of group that leaves nothing to chance when they’re working together in the studio, and judging from the meticulousness of this most recent offering, theirs is a pedigree that won’t be challenged by many outsiders anytime soon.

As I see it, Unexpected Guests produces a promising look at Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s sound that is more than worth checking out this summer if you like exotic beats. In seven supremely interesting songs, this LP doesn’t change the world so much as it shows us another lens through which we can look at, and eventually, understand it.

Whether this is your first go-round with the group’s music or you’ve been following them through their 22-year-plus odyssey in the Canadian underground, I would highly recommend giving Unexpected Guests a close listen this season, if for no other reason than to put something uniquely fascinating on your stereo in 2020.

Unexpected Guests Music Video!

If you enjoyed a sneak peak at Unexpected Guests, the latest album from Toronto Tabla Ensemble, check out their official website by clicking here. Give them a like on Facebook by clicking here & a follow on Twitter by clicking here.

Eric Jarvis

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