MAHARADJA SWEETS “Something’s Been Lost” (Orange Milk)

This isn’t like some of the more recent Maharadja Sweets releases you may have kicking around on of your tape decks, like “Guitar Joy” or “Slithering Kingdoms,” both on Oxtail Recordings, although it’s much closer to “Guitar Joy” in general. (“Slithering Kingdoms” was way crazier.) That shouldn’t be surprising, but you wouldn’t know that yet, and that’s only because I haven’t told you. See, these tunes have been kicking around inside the Maharadja’s head and heart for a long time, since the 1990s in fact. I know, I know, we were both still in high school and college around then, chill out. He took his time recording them, then he sat on them.

Till now.

The story goes, Keith and Seth “discovered” the Maharadja in 2011, and the rest is history, because the Orange Milk boys had the good sense to put out some of his music over the years. What they may not have expected was the treasure trove of delightfully introspective material crammed unceremoniously under his bed for so long – they were all about the digital processing–meets–instrumental prowess–meets–experimental flourishes of the Maharadja they unearthed that one time in 2011. And the perhaps surprising revelation that the “Something’s Been Lost” recordings existed was surely a welcome surprise for ol’ Keith and Seth.

So here it is.

The Maharadja’s finally letting these tunes fly free, like an airborne ibis leading the way to the afterlife, or something like that. (See cover image for citation.) His voice, fragile yet strong, anchors the piano- and guitar-based songs, which not only endure but also flourish so many years after conception. He even takes on Bob Dylan and the Band’s “I Shall Be Released,” a delicate and understated almost-lounge version (but way sad), underscoring the metaphorical freedom longed for and only spiritually – or again, metaphorically – earned. Fly, airborne ibis, fly – we’re with you, letting go of everything that eludes our grasp in the transition. Any transition.