This is a special record. It makes you think. It makes you question. It makes you listen – really listen. It’s music you get lost in before snapping back to reality. But mere moments after re-entering reality, you get lost again. Few records do that. Few artists have the capacity to make that happen. Seljuk Rustum isn’t like other artists, though. And Cardboard Castles isn’t like other records.
Making music has never been easy, but there’s a unique difficulty today. It can feel like we’ve already heard everything there is to hear. Rustum, a Kochi (Cochin)-based free artist, proves there’s still so much more sound to discover. Spanning genres and imbuing sonances from nearly every corner of the earth, Rustum’s experimental improv album is ambient and refreshing, folksy and futuristic. It’s a superlative example of how personal music is to each of us, evident in the variance of genres and sounds.
“Body of a Dolphin, Breasts of a Cloud,” is absolutely stunning. Tracks such as “Desi Bunny” display Rustum’s chops as a producer. “Fallen Sky” is a standout thanks to its sprawling instrumentation and natural noises. The entire album, released by Hive Mind Records, has a touch of Rustum’s native South Indian sound, but it bounces sonically at each new song. It’s musical Olympics, and Rustum is going for gold.
This record also brings you to an important conclusion: Music doesn’t have to be complex or ostensibly cohesive to be good. It can be whatever the artist wants it to be. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful or worthy. It makes it different, and that is inherently valuable. Music can, and will, and should mean something different to everyone. Cardboard Castles is what music means to Seljuk Rustum.