Indie Music Reviews: January 2019

Antahkarana (Nkshtra): A shorn, elegantly crinkled bassline can carry a track on it’s own weight, and Divyesh Gholap AKA Nkshtra is distinctly aware of this. Antahkarana provides the perfect soundtrack to subterfuge, thanks to underwhelming but addictive strings, keys and a percussive element so light that it practically resembles an actual breeze.

Though mellow, the track generates substantial intrigue. Despite no breathtaking sonic gymnastics, it certainly would add to a low-key gathering of curious minds and slightly drunk eyes. Gholap labels it folk electronica, even though the Indian classical influence primarily props up some fascination in what is basically chillhop. Instead of inducing torrid analysis, Antahkhana invites the listener to lounge, and if so inclined, gr.

The Only Find (Sri): Songs written by Srijit Bhowmick are best sung to oneself sitting by rain-blasted windows. These decidedly introspective compositions are matched by a voice cronning in tones of invocation. Imagine the dishevelled prophets spitting out revelation beside dusty backroads and menacing neon city glows of Beat poetry, and you will hear an echo of the same in Sri.

The EP pivots on lyrical compulsion. Srijit veers between obscure and obvious, making liberal use of personal metaphor and pointed symbol.

Unfairly, you tickled my bones

Better than I can have and

You better rule my heaven

Can’t seem to find

The beat, and unfairly

Isolation is impossible to miss; the lyrics depicting an almost crippling alienation. Take the following:

Well, I’m having fun

Sitting all by myself

You know, it’s getting tough

To keep on, but I’ll instead

This tragedy, I’m trading

Of living but for today

Would it kill, would it heal

Would it give away fun

Srijit broods throughout, modulating his impressive vocal range to create curious effect. Vocally, he projects to the skies, but the words he wields are strictly focused inward. The songs are either intensely relatable, or a cause for question. You can nod and say “This guy gets me” or simply tilt your head and go “Huh?”

The music is interesting, especially when you invest in the words and pick at them until they surrender meaning. They are just as easy to dissociate from meaning; consider the EP one man’s confession. Either way, it generates a desire to wonder, dissect and resign – depending on who you are.

Summer Skin (Parekh & Singh): Immersive as ever, the dream-weaving duo stay true to their otherworldly ethos with their new release, which serves as a glimpse into their upcoming sophomore album. The song is redolent of their characteristic innocence, often borne from the folksy dissociative power of those wind-chime instrumentals. However, the innocence starts to show edges of erosion, being touched by lyrics that betray the early emotional resignation of adolescence.

There’s no Beatle song that can change my mind” is the kind of thing you say when you face the sweet bitterness of first defeats. “I ponder the momentariness of life” and “There’s no Woody Allen film that can slow down time” are the incantations of youthful frustration, and coat their intrinsic angst with borderline schoolboy charm.

Musically and visually, this duo inhabits a liminal artistic space. They create spaces with their sounds; wistful, ineffable, sentimentally-skewed, surreptitiously painful spaces. It takes some deep diving to ferret out the underlying desolation in a Parekh & Singh song – a most worthy quest. Melancholy takes a more forward role in this track, and echoes of a fallacious humanity become visible.

Lush, verbose and utterly undemanding, Summer Skin is a messenger of joy. Like all Parekh & Singh songs, it becomes an intimate friend, revealing intimate secrets and promising to keep them at the same time. I promise, that you will feel those fairy-world synths reach out in both sorrow and solidarity.