Diaspora And The Humeysha Self-titled Review
It begins just that easy, like a long sip of a nourishing beverage goes down easy; one note joined by poly-rhythmic sounds on “For Love, From The Law.” Starting with it, a journey forged across India and New York.
On their self-titled record Humeysha (fronted by Zain Alam) have achieved a pure water synthesized by both tradition and Indie Rock. Take that in for a moment, it’s something you’ll just have to experience front-to-end, to play witness to, as each phase of the record unfolds before you.
Zain has two personalities; he thinks a thought in Hindi and English and will lyrically swim between the two. Sometimes when grooving through lines like “Running, running, running, from the law,” on FLFTL, he’s still invoking the melodic spirit of a Hindi song. This is a feat and such a part of the charm here, because it’s a remarkable hybrid that lends itself to a sound that doesn’t quite exist in Indie Rock, that’s because its coalescence acts just as that, rather than an enumeration of sounds Zain wanted to create. (I’ll touch on why this particular bit is prevalent for Humeysha in a bit.)
Because while we’ve heard many quasi-eastern sounds borrowed by the Indie-rock darling sojourners, (I think of Devendra Banhart’s tapestries.) A Zain Alam fronted Humeshya cannot avoid the expanse of a land and experience he brings to the material. Beginning as a few lo-fi songs recorded alone during his Fellowship in India, working as a scholar for the 1947 Partition Archive, friends encouraged him to re-record professionally, so Zain put together the aforementioned full length here in NY, the kicker being it made its way into the hands of Camp & Street. (A record label headed by NYC’s rapper/musician Le1f.)
While the first track from the LP “For Love, From the Law” just hit Spotify’s USA Viral Top 50 list, culminating a string of successes on Spotify, (inclusion on Spotify Canada’s New Music Friday playlist for 12/26, 60,000+ global listeners for the band so far, and 105,000+ listens for this track alone,) songs like “Burma Between You and Me” marry together all the elements of his work into a sweet little number, that not only imprints its melodies into your mind, but gives you something daringly new at the same time. Surely puts an extra pep in my step while I might be asking a local bar to play this next, it can fit neatly into many environments, and equally for whom those environments inhabit.
Overall, this record is oozing with inspiration, it’s bound together with the instrumental landscapes of India, yet effortlessly ties in notey reverberant ambient indie guitars that even Brooklyn based Snowmine could echo. It carries a legacy of travel and search for Identity through the eyes of a young man and it’s likely it will only serve as the start of what this band could create musically and what this work implies for a diaspora often lost in a country where an Aziz Ansari can sell out Madison Square Garden and an Indian Grandfather can get thrown to the ground for looking “suspicious,” while Desi/Arabic Diaspora millennials try earnestly to navigate the American landscape to create an Identity of their own, their cultures cast as an anchorage to their hearts, Humeysha show us that both are possible and can work together to produce insight and identity.
When I was a young (half) Indian kid growing up in Brooklyn and Long Island, I didn’t fit into the study groups. In fact I almost didn’t graduate high school and never went back to college because I couldn’t afford it and music was my one and only compass. I was the only Indian kid I knew with a guitar and bleached hair that listened to Nirvana and ate Biryani, Zain Alam however is turning this all up on its head and created one of the most ambitious albums i’ve heard so far this year, maybe giving a whole new audience someone to shout for in the process.”
// Support: http://humeysha.com