This is an epic album. Not “epic” meaning excellent as it does in the playground, nor “epic” meaning a huge widescreen sound. This album is epic in the scope of its ambition and the voyage the songs take you on in order to communicate directly with the listener. It’s an album to put on through the headphones and then allow yourself to be carried away.
The music is a sort of psychedelic indie; at its heart is quite a light melodic rock band and lots of different elements are added into this as the different songs float by, building up into a rich, engrossing sound. This is quite an achievement as Prem-Seva only formed in 2020 and this album has been stitched together throughout the Year of Covid, recording many musicians remotely. Despite the remote recording, the record sounds warm and full of life, as though the players are all playing simultaneously, rather than separately. The band members are Madhava, Samuel Fryer and Dan Watson: 3 multi-talented multi-instrumentalists who contribute 13 instruments between them. They utilise a supporting cast of thousands (well, 12) who add everything from harmonica to flute to violin to backwards guitar etc.
If this sounds bloated or pretentious, believe me, it isn’t. Cleverly these layers never swamp the tracks with pointless texture, rather they provide depth and enhance the music that the core band is playing. The guitar solo from “Lion From Zion” is a real highlight with Will Turner channelling the sound and spirit of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour in the best possible way.
A psychedelic sensibility is given to the songs through the addition of the sound of thunder, running water and spoken word samples of Bob Marley which float through the music’s mix without sounding jarring or shoe-horned in. However, even with all this being added the band manage to maintain intimacy – as though the music is being made just for you, the individual listener. In large part this is down to the passionate, committed, tremulous vocal delivery of Madhava that reminds me again and again of Michael Stipe. The songs unfold a spiritual message of peace, love and unity for all. If this sounds trite written down, the totally convinced and dedicated delivery by the musicians communicates genuine passion, real feeling, which gives the message of the lyrics conviction across the songs.
If you want a bit of gentle but persistent hope that will follow you around all day like a trace of smoke in the air, wrapped up in sweet melody and passionate musicianship then Prem-Seva is for you.
By: Eastside Jimmy