Jitwam’s “Third” is Music Feeds’ album of the week. Opinion on Cyclone Wehner.
While touring Australia in late 2019, Moodymann released INXS’ 80s hit “Need You Tonight” in their DJ set, trailing house purists. But the Detroiter had previously championed a cult Australian dance act, Sydney DJ, singer, musician and producer Jitwam Sinha – or simply Jitwam. Indeed, Moodymann included Jitwam’s “Keepyourbusinesstoyourself” on the now-classic 2016 DJ hits mix compilation.
Jitwam sleeps at home, but should change with his new album, Thirdwhich cleverly positions itself as a “reintroduction”.
Jitwam was born in Guwahati, Assam, in northeastern India. Soon after, his family emigrated to Australia. Bicultural youth would face subtle, if insidious, social pressure to assimilate. A rock fan, he learned guitar and keyboards. Later, Jitwam traveled extensively, ending up in the crucible of London. There he discovered dance music. In 2017, Jitwam, after generating its own sonic hybrid, released a debut album, ‘ज़ितम सिहँ‘followed by Honeycomb in 2019.
In the 1960s, the Beatles embraced Indian classical music for their party Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – ostensibly capturing a counter-cultural Zeitgeist, but with little awareness of the sensitivities surrounding cultural cooptation. In a way, Jitwam has reclaimed this trippy aesthetic by declaring himself a “savant of psychedelic soul” – his house music is funky and soulful, yet transgressive.
The concept of “home” is one of Third themes. The LP was inspired by Jitwam’s life in both London and particularly fast-paced New York. It subliminally explores immigrant history, diasporic experience and third culture identity. Third Opener ‘India’ is a deep groove with a neo-psychedelic twist. Jitwam’s fragmented speech is used verbatim alongside liquid jazz guitar and flute. He expresses a need to reconnect with his roots: “I won’t forget / where I come from / where I really belong.
Jitwam – ‘Brooklyn Ballers’
But, above all, Third is a tribute to multicultural New York – the cheeky lead single “Brooklyn Ballers” is part of several tracks with a hip-hop swagger. The fast-paced “Stranger Danger (In The Streets Of Life)” – featuring Detroit’s otherwise MIA underground rapper Ahkatari – sounds like Genesis Owusu crashing into a DFA Records party in its punk-funk heyday.
Jitwam’s lyrics allude to the more obscure aspects of metropolitan mobility: market forces, gentrification and homelessness. However, he does not make overt political statements about Third – messaging, as with his voice, is obscured. The anti-materialist ‘Money & Things!!!’ evokes the cheerful disco sound of the Avalanches towards Wild flower.
Third establishes Jitwam’s fluid and elegant style as a producer. The album’s centerpiece, “Equanimity,” is led by Brooklyn-based Melanie Charles, an acclaimed Haitian-American jazz singer and flautist (she was also a member of Gorillaz’ choir). Humanz). And the song is soothing for the tough times – imagine D’Angelo getting lost producing deep house, with a mystical throbbing flute.
Jitwam – ‘Stranger Danger (In the Streets of Life)’
by Jitwam Third is out now.
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