Rafiq Bhatia - Standards Vol. 1 [EP]
“Dark, powerful, inventive” – Stereogum
“Approximates life in the information age…profuse, immersive and immense.” – The Washington Post
“Transcending real sound in real time with the unexpected…There aren’t many usual moments in his music.” – Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
Rafiq Bhatia’s new EP Standards Vol. 1 transforms cornerstone works by Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman and more into immersive, otherworldly realms of sound that are uniquely his own. Working with a cast of traditional jazz’s most beloved musicians including the three-time GRAMMY-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, Bhatia implements dreamlike and sometimes volatile electronic techniques to recast classic repertoire as a window into the darkness underlying ordinary American life.
Bhatia and Salvant’s creative partnership makes perfect sense when you consider the pair’s shared love of David Lynch — Twin Peaks, in particular. The pair’s version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” comes across like a chilly Black Lodge rendition of Roberta Flack, vis-à-vis Laura Palmer, emphasizing the original’s nods not just love, but loss. Alternately pastoral and surreal, Salvant’s mesmerizing delivery and Bhatia’s ice-sculptural production foreground shadowy implications latent within the song’s subconscious: “like the trembling heart of a captive bird that was there at my command.”