Indian Ocean make their foray into Hindi film music for the first time with Black Friday, which is based on the Mumbai bomb blasts in 1993, and the praise the recording has received is fully justified. The uniqueness of this score in which a band provides the music for a full-length feature film lies in the justice provided to the film's theme, in contrast to what is often churned out from a conventional director/lyricist/singer arrangement. A full-blown and outright stylish contemporary and musically rich album, Black Friday is also influenced greatly by jazz and electronic composition -- cheers to the flawless and exceptional sound production by K.J. Singh. Each of the songs provides the right feeling and sound to its title and associated sequence in the film. It's evident from the very first listen that the band had to forgo the acoustic folk roots of its previous four albums, thus including guest musicians like Raghav Sachar (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Paresh Kamath (electric guitar), and Dishad (sarangi). The album opens with the marvelous "Bandeh," with lyrics by Piyush Mishra and a sizzling lead guitar line and alaap. The song starts off slowly and builds up the momentum, reaching a racing climax. The next two songs are again lyrical beauties with secular and philosophical undertones. The third song, "Bharam Bhap Ke," is probably the most soulful and melodious number on the album, best heard in tranquil surroundings with a laid-back disposition.
The fourth song is where the evocative instrumentals signifying the Bombay blasts start. "Opening/Pre Blast" is a fast-paced composition for drums, flute, and saxophone, creating an atmosphere of apprehension and anxiety. While "Bomb Planting" is gripping and powerful with its guitars and keyboards, "Memon House" has a jazz-like quality incorporating Indian classical alaap and Sufi-bols. "RDX" is a slow instrumental with beautiful ornamentations and great work on keyboards. "Training" launches amid slow gesturing sounds, followed by loud drumming patterns and a lot of Urdu and Arabic overtones. "Chase" is the concluding piece, containing some gripping mouth percussion and drum-bass sounds that give the listener the feeling of panting, gasping, and a real chase. All these instrumentals are used as background numbers in the movie and form a perfect setup for the listener to connect and understand the film. It's rare that one hears Indian classical music amalgamated with Western electric jazz and Sufi music, and this is where the beauty of this album lies. With mesmerizing guitar lines, condensed and appropriate use of sax and flute, and bass and drums used to give a fearful and angry feeling, this is music that truly exemplifies artistic maturity at its higher levels. Definitely a pleasant surprise for the fans of Indian Ocean (although a letdown for conventional Hindi film listeners preferring romantic numbers, item numbers, duets, and qawwalis), Black Friday is a must-buy album for those seeking to hear first-class experimental music and witness an immensely talented band at the peak of its creativity.