Rakkatak's third LP is stunning in its quiet intensity. Fronted by Toronto-based Anita Katakkar — Rakkatak is her surname spelled backwards — the tabla-dominated thrust of Small Pieces is a forward-looking meld of electronics and old-style Indian music influenced by the self-described "Asian Underground." Along with the deft Oriana Barbato on bass and the sitar-wielding Rex Van der Spuy, the ensemble have eagerly honed a sharp sound — coming a long way from Katakkar's 2010 solo "just a tabla, laptop, and a sequencer" debut — that upholds an intriguing fusionist mandate.
Modernity is the mode on the bass-driven standout "Heliosphere," an energetic number that feels fresh and frenzied at once. "Eesha's Song" carries a wistful tenor as it delves into emotional heartbreak. The lovely "Thoughts of You" features a jazzy Samidha Joglekar on vocals, the electro-bop of "Riffing on 9" revels in its playfulness and "Rain After the Fire" reflects on the emotional aftermath of destruction, while the earnest take on Rush's "YYZ" comes off curious and inspired, if ultimately inessential.
Across its nine tracks, Small Pieces is a satisfying endeavour, maintaining tabla and sitar-charged traditions as its heart with a soul firmly affixed to a future groove. (Independent)