By Samir Shukla
The Canadian band Rakkatak, consisting of core duo Anita Katakkar on tabla and Oriana Barbato on bass, blends classical Indian rhythms and a dash of pop to make eclectic music. Katakkar is a versatile tabla player infusing the aesthetic of classical Indian music with just enough experimentation to make the music her own. She is traditionally trained with an ear for contemporary music. It's a treat to hear a woman on an instrument that is generally dominated by male players. Katakkar began work several years ago with her tabla and laptop to weave a mix of classical Indian music and electronica. She conducts tabla workshops in and around her native Toronto where her Indian and Scottish heritage is further informed by the multicultural ethos of that city. She studied tabla in California with Ritesh Das and in Kolkata with the legendary tabla master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.
Barbato's bass channels her Chilean heritage while exploring many cultures in her playing.
The group released their third recording Small Pieces this past spring with several guests lending their talents. The album is formed with a couple of intriguing covers, “Medley feat. Norwegian Wood," channels the Beatles while the cover of Rush's “YYZ" is reworked where tabla and bass clearly respect the original while taking it further into new musical realms. Vocalist Samidha Joglekar adds a vocal sway to the track “Thoughts of You." The rest of the collection includes the solid tracks “Dreaming," “Heliosphere," “Eesha's Song," “Rain After the Fire," and “Riffing on 9."