Album Review: Adi Shankara – Looking North


Antoine Redon, Adi Shankara, Adi, or RUST, is a French artist based in Paris. Looking North is his first album in seven years. The scope of New Sounds is wide and our reach is long; we found Adi in the Parisian music scene, busy working on a new album. It is produced by Dubatriation and distributed by Skanky Yard. With Looking North, Redon is back at the forefront of the avant-garde French music scene. 

For a sophomore album it is an extraordinarily bold work. Very experimental in parts, the eight tracks slip through genre and form with ease. Loosely in the dub family, the music is meditative, introspective and experimental. 

You can hear Adi’s influences peeking through at various stages on the record. The first track, Ghosts From Now, sounds like the start of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, before the next track puts in a drum beat and picks up the pace. Similar to Pink Floyd, you feel as though the album is taking you on a journey from start to finish, depositing you back where you started at the end after an almost psychedelic experience. 

Redon is interested in ambient music and experimenting with sounds, and spends a lot of his time researching more obscure tracks and sounds. When I spoke with him he had just been listening to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, an album I have never managed to get more than a minute or two into. Clearly he can hear something that has swam well over my head. 

Angelo Badalementi (of Twin Peaks fame) seems an early influence. He cites Rhythm & Sound as a key influence, and the similarities are obvious, although I will say he does a lot more than just copy the German duo. The Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke is also an influence, and his use of ambient music and relaxed drum beats come out in Adi’s work. The surreal, dream-like sounds of Thomas Köner have also made their impression on Redon. 

Redon spent time in Dublin and many of the sounds were created with Dublin Port especially in mind. The album cover is a grainy, black and white photo of the iconic Poolbeg towers, and although there are no lyrics in the record and as such no explicit reference to Dublin, the streets of East Wall and the North Side seem to be embedded within the sounds of the record. The tracks are all named after places or things in Dublin: Ranelagh, Poolbeg, and even An Gorta Mor (meaning the Great Hunger, or Famine). Like Adi Shankara’s name, taken from an eighth century Vedic Hindu scholar, Redon is not afraid to let other cultures wash over him and influence him. The track is a love story to Dublin, told by a Frenchman, with a distinctly French electro-Dub sound. 

I am a big fan. I gave it 4.5 stars because if something is experimental it deserves credit, in my humble opinion. As well as being a very new kind of sound, it remains listenable, something often lost when attempting something so different. The only reason it hasn’t got five stars is because I’ve never given anything five stars before, and it scares me a bit. I don’t know what will happen if I do. A bit like when the Mayan calendar was running out, I am afraid the world will end when I finally find that perfect album – Looking North wasn’t far off. 

Redon’s next album is in production currently, and he will be releasing it under the name RUST, all going well sometime in the next year. Listen to Looking North below.