It was announced some time ago that British folk lovelies Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons had recorded an EP with local musicians whilst on tour in India, and that it was set for release. All mention of it then seemed to disappear however, so I was surprised to find it had been released on Record Store Day without my noticing! As someone who’s been a fan of Laura Marling ever since my friend first plugged her into my ear in the lunch queue at school and has been following Mumford & Sons since they had demos up on MySpace, I was buzzing.
The EP was recorded with the Dharohar Project, a musical collective from Rajasthan in northwest India which has a very developed and distinctive musical heritage. Indie acts delving into world music has only ever produced decidedly mixed results; it’s been pretty hard to get away with unless you’re Vampire Weekend. But the Mumfords and Marling combine with the Dharohar Project in a breathtaking fashion. Now, I say that as someone who knows sod all about world music, but I know what I likes and I likes what I hear!
The EP includes two astonishing reinterpretations of Marling and Mumford tracks – “Devil’s Spoke” and “To Darkness” respectively. The tracks are jam packed with intense percussion and glorious walls of harmony lashed on by the guest musicians. The vocal and instrumental performances from the Dharohar Project really are something to behold. If you watch the live performances, the tracks are expanded and drawn out to breathtaking effect.
The strongest track though is undoubtedly “Meheni Rachi,” a Marling-led take on what I assume is a song originating from the Indian half of the project. It’s just a bit glorious.