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Nitin Sawhney - Last Days of Meaning

  by Sarah Maybank

published: 11 / 9 / 2011

Nitin Sawhney - Last Days of Meaning
Label: Positiv ID
Format: CD


Forceful yet optimistic latest album from London-based composer and musican Nitin Sawhney, which weaving in a world of influences from Western movie soundtracks to rap, takes on immigration from the point of view of an elderly bigot

Bloody immigrants. Bloody terrorists.” Nitin Sawhney doesn't do predictable. As if turning out acclaimed nine studio albums wasn't enough (and winning a Mobo, a Mercury, a Radio 3 Award and being nominated for a Bafta in the process) the Dulwich renaissance man has taken on a ton of challenges in his career – writing the scores for highbrow theatre and dance performances; DJing filthy dubstep at Fabric and the Big Chill; collaborating with...Sting. Now he takes on immigration. From the point of view of an irascible old bigot. “Every time there's an economic downturn the government seems to blame immigrants,” Sawhney notes. The result was 'Last Days of Meaning', and the “bigot” is John Hurt, who provides ranting spoken word interludes between the tracks, playing the character of Donald Meaning, an embittered, Dickensian man, fearful of immigrants, terrorists and the outside world. The pair met when Sawhney was scoring 'The Human Planet', which Hurt narrated. 'Last Days of Meaning' was originally intended as a film script, and it was one short leap from 'Human Planet' to human nature - a journey through Meaning's fear and suspicion of the unknown. The album consists of Meaning's lonely, embittered monologues, festering up between each of the songs. In less deft hands, this could have been a major embarrassment; something along the lines of the well-meaning but excruciating Legz Akimbo, the socially conscious theatre company from 'The League Of Gentlemen'. Instead Sawhney counterpoints Meaning's paranoid rants with a clutch of bluesy shuffles and delicate, fragile ballads, sung by a variety of guest vocalists, and weaving in a world of influences, from Western movie soundtracks to rap, accompanied by everything from gorgeous, swooning sitars to moody slide guitars. The gentle vibe, which recalls 90s trip hoppers The Sneaker Pimps, especially in its sweet, feminine vocal, sugars the pill of Meaning's negativity. It may be too polite for some, but Sawhney has covered that base too – check out Soundcloud for some muscular remixes courtesy of electronica up-and-comers, Engine Earz. As a concept, this album is no finger-pointing exercise. Hope and optimism build throughout, with the final track, in which rapper Natty advises, "Wipe the dust from your smile," preceded by a slamming door. But has Meaning decided to embrace the outside world, or change his mind and renounce it forever? That would be telling - but you won't feel short changed on your way to finding out.

Track Listing:-
1 The Devil And Midnight
2 Reflections 1
3 Confessions From The Womb
4 Reflections 2
5 Say You Will
6 Reflections 3
7 I'm Done
8 Kite
9 Reflections 4
10 Projector
11 Reflections 5
12 Daydream
13 Tender World
14 So Long
15 Reflections 6
16 Laugh
17 Reflections 7
18 Taste The Air
19 Reflections 8

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