“Delightfully outlandish, but never inaccessible, this pan-global cocktail is a true treat for the adventurous ear.” –TimeOutNY
A collection of sounds that take you on a trip around the world and through time is just the tip of the iceberg when describing Bombay Rickey’s newest release Electric Bhairavi. The album is a nod to surf rock, cumbia, Bollywood, and spaghetti-Westerns, and laced with soaring operatic vocals from the multi-talented lead vocalist Kamala Sankaram. Electric Bhairavi has a groove reminiscent of the 60’s beach vibes that grabs you and takes you on a listening journey. Bombay Rickey is set to release their sophomore album, Electric Bhairavi on May 18 via Cowboys and Indian.
Now on their second album and with an opera under their belt, songwriting has become second nature to Bombay Rickey. The band is comprised of Kamala Sankaram (vocals, accordion, sitar), Drew Fleming (guitar, vocals), Jeff Hudgins (saxophones, vocals), Gil Smuskowitz (upright bass), and Brian Adler (percussion). Overflowing with talent, each member writes music and collaboratively they arrange the songs. This is most notable on the title track, “Electric Bhairavi.” Bhairavi is a classic Hindustani raga, and Bombay Rickey pairs the typical form of a classical Hindustani piece (alap, gat, and jhalla) with electric instruments. They match the traditional sitar with more prog rock and heavy metal riffs. Having all come up via the New York and Texas indie rock/punk/experimental scenes, Bombay Rickey incorporates their rock n’ roll backgrounds and influences throughout the 10 track album.
Bombay Rickey started out as an Yma Sumac cover band. Yma Sumac was a Peruvian-American soprano who claimed a 5-octave range and was a national and international sensation circa the 1950’s. She released a handful of albums including the notable Mambo! Bombay Rickey’s Electric Bhairavi contains a few odes to Yma in the new album, including the notable “Gopher,” inspired by Yma’s famous “Gopher Mambo.” It is a surfy rendition and features Kamala singing a high E. Another standout and ode to Yma is “Virgenes del Sol,” an over the top surfy number that has a full opera chorus and appearances from the bari sax and Hammond organ creating the full sounds.
A few more standouts include, “Bhonkers” written by Adler, which captures the spirit of Bombay Rickey and features deep notes achieved by blowing on soda bottles. “Sa-4-5” is based on a composition (“Ranga Jinna Daro”), written in the raga Gujari Todi by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, the noted Hindustani classical singer. This tune was taught to Jeff by Harriotte Hurie, a student of B. R. Bhatt, who learned the melody from Thakur directly. The lead single “Megalodon” was inspired by Kamala’s collection of prehistoric shark teeth collected from a beach in Manasota Key, FL. The psychedelic tune reimagines these ancient predators lurking beneath the water 40 thousand years ago.
With the new release, Bombay Rickey came back to Water Music in Hoboken to record with Gabriel Bento. For this record, they were able to use the newly restored Hammond A100 organ and Wurlitzer electric piano, which were out of commission for the first release due to damage from Hurricane Sandy. Overdubs were completed at LoHo Studios, the former Blue Man Group recording studio, with Rich Phillis.
The Brooklyn based band exploded on the scene in 2014 with Cinefonia, and earned the award Best Eclectic Album Vox Pop from the Independent Music Awards that year. From that time they have supported Dengue Fever, licensed a track for a Citibank ad, and have written and performed, both nationally and internationally, an opera based on the life of the legendary Yma Sumac. The show premiered at PROTOTYPE in New York with 7 sold-out shows, and traveled to Tête à Tête Opera's Cubitt Sessions in King's Cross, London. They are currently booked with the Mid-Atlantic Arts Fund’s Touring Roster this year.
Their live performance can’t be missed. Every performance is unique as the band improvises during each performance, and the band’s opening solos cannot be replicated. Bombay Rickey is set to tour this spring.