“Breaking English” is the title track and single off the new Rafiq Bhati album. Quite honestly, it’s the most soulful thing to come out of my speakers since D’Angelo and The Vanguard released Black Messiah. 

By definition, “Breaking English” is an instrumental track. With the use of programmed backing vocals that help carry the song throughout its smooth five minutes and fifty-five seconds, it also establishes a certain emotional presence that can’t be denied. This song takes you somewhere. A destination that is left for the listener to decide.

For me, a lot of music that is played very technically correct, lacks the ability to grab and retain my attention. This is the furthest thing from that. These three have found a stylistic middle ground of playing very technical, all the while keeping the emotion of live music intact.

Rafiq Bhati’s new material is a testament to the fact that both the digital and analog worlds of music can in fact coexist. Blending programmed backing vocals that take the song to the next level, along with the addition of various percussive textures and an awesome gritty guitar tone, it allows this band to sound much bigger then the trio that they are. 

What I also found to be impressive was Rafiqi Bhati’s ability to reproduce their studio recording in a live setting. Go check out the recorded version, and then come back to watch them perform “Breaking English” in a live session for their label, Anti- Records.

Austin Newkirk is a San Francisco Bay Area photographer. You’ll likely find him in one of three places - out at the beach with his dog, Ky, at a brewery sipping on a stout, or out shooting your next favorite band.