Indie Music Reviews: December 2018

Songs from a Matchbox (Raghav Meattle)

Jokes about Raghav proving his “meattle” can wait (Or, you can hate me because I already made it). First, we need to wax eloquent about an album that is part soliloquy, all poetry.

Meattle wrote his songs from a Mumbai 1BHK (the eponymous matchbox), and converted what could only have started as musings into art-hedged windows to multiple lives. The album is soaked in a sonic marinade of mellow rumination and unperturbed eagerness. Raghav centers his music around words. His attention is on communication through lyrics, and he manages to converge sentiment and amusement into dulcet delight.

I’m Always Right” parodies the semi-despotic authority accorded to guardians and societal supervisors. When congealed into a 3 minute song, it emerges as ridiculous; ripe for satire. “Bar Talk” frames with sprightly stringwork the loneliness of performing before an indifferent audience. “Two Left Feet” addresses the abstract, often obscure play for desire and indignance. “Stood Up & Fried”outlines the predatory patriarchy that threatens every breath every woman ever takes.The platter widens to include intensity and detachment, and Meattle emerges as a prophet of everyday exasperation.

Raghav writes and sings from a seemingly personal lens. It could even be considered exclusionary if he wasn’t as dexterous with his wordplay. But he possesses that supernatural quality inherent in art that stays : feel utterly unique things and weave them with such enchantment that the reader/listener/viewer/lover’s joy feels akin to relevance.

Easily one of the most fascinating releases this year, this album calls for purposeful listening. There is immense value in listening to someone who offers wide-angle portraits of tiredness and trauma via wit-leveled rhythm. Beer and existential contemplation make for a good Friday, yes?

Insignify (Rainburn)

Concept albums are among the most satisfactory acts of creation a musician can undertake. Simultaneously, they are astonishingly easy to infuse with disingenuous prattle and ornamental sound-swathes substantiated with little to no narrative.

It is best to approach concept albums with scepticism. Translating grand ideation to palpable, perceivable execution is akin to pulling colour and skin out of thin air.

Rainburn did exactly that.

I try not to demand absolute polish and profundity out of debuts, mainly because the debut is, despite the members’ previous tenure, the etching of a still immature history. A new band starts out with storytelling that does not have the liberty of being shaped by any perspective but theirs.

However, Insignify whispers, moans and often wails stories that possess the subdued confidence of individual conviction. In your mind’s eye, imagine four men sitting together, discussing how they can replicate the vagaries and tragedies of split-sanity. As the album progresses, it becomes evident that the speakers residing in it suffer from a morbid, almost Gnostic despair.

Driven mad by the sludge of “emotional anagrams”, songs like “Mirrors” and “Someone New” claw at the strictures of large-world-apathy. Frontman Vats Iyengar leads a dissonance-stricken choir to exalt a reality that is best understood with a broken mind.

The album reaches towards achieving the resonance of a Samuel Beckett-style nightmare. “Purpose”, for instance is a delirious harmonic replica of fraught consciousness. Voices lash at each other, seeking conquest in their expression of futility. “Suicide Note” progresses with militaristic precision, and is easily the most potent track for encouraging obsession with itself.  

Rainburn’s eagerness to hold mirrors up to our drunk and delirious soulscape is well worth reward. They play with and question their own compositions, often using masterful string-strokes to disrupt their own rhythmic symmetry. How much do you want to bet that these guys crouched around a screen some time recently, watching Eraserhead and nodding in agreement to it?