Published May 18, 2018Kentucky composer, arranger and pianist Rachel Grimes has delivered an original score that's a joy to listen to, even divorced of the images and story that shaped it.
We don't necessarily need to see how this nimble, Eastern-influenced modern composition syncs to the tale of Dr. Vasant Lad and his journey to bring Ayurvedic medicine to the West in order to appreciate the sophisticated horn, harp and string arrangements that accompany Grimes' nuanced and highly descriptive piano work. We can feel a sense of that journey and its intent in the compositions. These pieces are meditative and warm, but with a sense of sweeping grandeur and hints of the sly playfulness that animates much traditional Indian music.
Grimes very deliberately blends Eastern and Western musical disciplines to create a sense of collaboration of knowledge — that cross-pollination of ideas so vital to the evolution of art and science alike. It smartly serves the narrative of the film while providing wonderful harmonic and rhythmic material to draw from, recombine and recontextualize.
At 18 tracks, it's a lot of music to digest, but for a score album and the necessary repetition of motifs that entails, The Doctor From India never feels like it's simply retreading. Each reiteration of a theme is given its own distinct identity, making the album engaging throughout. If the idea of music that finds the middle ground between Ravi Shankar and Max Richter appeals to you, this is essential listening. (Rough Trade)