Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – Navarasa: Nine Emotions

James Yorkston, Jon Thorne and Suhail Yusuf Khan's third collaboration, Navarasa: Nine Emotions, is steeped in conceptual daring

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 14 Jan 2020
  • Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – Navarasa: Nine Emotions
Album title: Navarasa: Nine Emotions
Artist: Yorkston/Thorne/Khan
Label: Domino
Release date: 24 Jan

When James Yorkston, Jon Thorne and Suhail Yusuf Khan named their second collaborative full-length Neuk Wight Delhi All-Stars, you got the sense they were well aware of what an unlikely creative vein they’d tapped into.

It was a tongue-in-cheek title but an instructive one, too; it’s not just that the three men are geographically diffuse, but also that they bring so much of the traditional styles that they’re steeped in to this increasingly daring fusion project. On Navarasa: Nine Emotions, a handsome, highly conceptual third LP, this unlikely three-way marriage remains as uncompromising an arrangement as ever. This time, they’re leaning on Khan’s heritage to explore the titular navarasa, a statute of nine human emotions as they relate to the arts.

In places, there’s a palpable reverence for each other’s contributions. Khan takes the lead on the thickly atmospheric opener Sukhe Phool, with his mastery over the sarangi given plenty of room to breathe; on lead single The Shearing’s Not for You, meanwhile, Khan and Thorne are happy to sit back and admire Yorkston’s narrative sorcery, and lend instrumental colour and punctuation from the sidelines. The clearest indicator of the pace at which this band has developed, though, comes with the album’s most ambitious moments – the mercurial instrumental The North Carr, for instance, or the searingly unusual, vocals-only Twa Brothers, on which Yorkston and Khan riff over each other. It’s at those points that you realise that Yorkston/Thorne/Khan has evolved from a project born out of quiet respect for each other’s crafts into something aiming to blend them in a manner that truly forges new ground. Accordingly, Navarasa: Nine Emotions is a rollercoaster of vibrancy.

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