It had to happen at some point. Sooner or later an artist would appear that had the potential to become a New Age music superstar, much like Mike Oldfield in 1973 or Enya in 1988. 20 year old Nitish Kulkarni‘s debut album Synesthetic shows exceptional talent. Yet it is not a perfect album, and it is not a new Tubular Bells or Watermark. But it is without a doubt the most promising debut album in the New Age music genre since year 2000. The artists of 1970s and 80s can safely retire, knowing that the future of music is in the best of hands…
New Age music has never been a young man’s genre. This is not pop or rock where an artist of 28 is considered old and most likely will not produce anything interesting. The genre has since its beginning been dominated by artists in their 40s and 50s. This is one of the reasons – though not the primary reason – why Nitish Kulkarni is an interesting artist.
An Artist for the Future
Nitish Kulkarni has, according to the label EverSound, been called “the next Yanni by hundreds of people who have heard his early work.” Listening to Synesthetic it is easy to hear the influence in terms of harmonies and atmospheres; Songs like Gold & Silver and A Prayer like Velvet could have been composed and arranged by Yanni. That tells me two things; 1.) Kulkarni is a big Yanni fan – and 2) Kulkarni is an artist who is able to imitate Yanni successfully. That in itself is a major thing.
In art there’s nothing unusual that a performer will need time to find his or her voice. How many authors haven’t begun their writing imitating masters such as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Ernest Hemingway, and after a few novels have found their own unique expression? It is the same in New Age music. Artists like Jean Michel Jarre and Andreas Vollenweider needed two-three albums before they were ready for their breakthrough.
Synesthetic starts with the song Mermaid. A better fusion of chill out and New Age music is hard to find; the main instrument effortlessly sets the mood and is nicely backed by other analogue sounding synths. Swimming with the mermaids suddenly seems like a great idea. In short; Mermaid is a magnificent album opener. Next song out, Breathing Blue, is another winner – much thanks to its build-up and cool atmosphere.
My favorite track on the album is Swansong. It’s impossible not to be affected by its positive vibe. Kulkarni shows that he is a true multi-instrumentalist (around 50 instruments are used here), and has a deep understanding for the genre. Synesthetic is produced by John Adorney, who also participates on two songs. Hopefully John will be there on the next releases too to guide Nitish in his search for his artistic expression.
To compare Kulkarni’s style to Yanni is easy, but if you listen carefully you’ll hear that he has a lot in common with artists such as Medwyn Goodall, Clifford White and – yes – John Adorney.
In conclusion; Synesthetic is in every way a magnificent debut album. Nitish Kulkarni has the potential to become New Age music superstar. When that happens, Synesthetic will be the album that showed his amazing talent – but not his uniqueness.
But that’s ok. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Score: 98/100 – See how I rate music here
The album is available as a CD on EverSound’s homepage. The worldwide digital release will be in January 2015.
Mermaid is available on Spotify.