Fever Dream (Dualist Inquiry): It has been a while since I listened to Sahej Bakshi, but I remember him making good music. His realm is electronica, and while that genre does not appear amidst my personal preferences, I have never come to Dualist Inquiry with any reluctance. The man is obsessed with storytelling, as revealed by the fact that he spends hours scouring the internet for singular words that can convey seven whole minutes of wordless songplay. He is dead serious about ascribing close meaning to sound, and the results are often exceedingly satisfactory.
Fever Dream is a self-aware, playful thing. The song is aptly titled, because the ebb and rise of sound is subdued, half-sunk into its own secret. It is paced like the shallow breaths accompanying a high fever. Faded tones of children’s voices mingle with lullaby-like tinkles – all of which is framed within a firm and unhurried drum machine. The track moves from hypnagogic to hyper-conscious without employing exaggerated breakdowns to reach climax.
Within the first few seconds, you can see yourself making a story to align with the track. Sure, it might be steampunk slash Freudian circus, but it keeps boredom out of the question. You can dance, too.
Puppet Life (Amanda Sodhi): Amanda Sodhi has a lovely voice. It serves as a saving grace in most of her music. If you don’t pay much attention, you might miss badly written lyrics or vapid intentions because it all sounds pretty good.
Thankfully, Puppet Life is not maligned with either. Sodhi’s voice is accompanied by a pertinent theme. Life does not adhere to plans, however well crafted they may be. There is not a single person who is not familiar with the feeling of being thwarted by life in every direction. Sodhi’s song works because it hones in on the echo-chamber of the human heart. Despair and quiet desperation are intensely relatable.
The track does not have too many surprises, and is good for anyone who wants to feel understood. To know that you are not the only one feeling chewed up and spit out can be immensely comforting. I found the lyrics a tad juvenile (Puppet Life/God’s pulling the strings/Try not to plan/Sorrow it brings), but one can overlook it in favour of the theme. The music is pleasant enough – nothing is jarring, but the instrumentation does not exactly jump out to grab you by the throat.
Abstract Melodies (Eashwar Subramanian): Abstract Melodies does not bother with flourish. The album comprises two pieces, fronted by a piano and framed by a range of instrumentation that is fragile but significant.
Subramanian lays out a phonetic vision of harmony and tranquility. As unrealistic as the vision might seem, especially in the current state of global self-loathing, it is a scenery worth the attention. ‘Stillness’ inspires silence with its sound. I would not advise that either track be listened to if you are not able to genuinely devote attention. The crinkles of sound are subtle, almost deceptive. They do not scream to be heard; the onus is on you to appreciate their whispered meaning. Peace is achieved, but these variations stand as metaphors for the million thoughts that must be accepted, reconciled with and vanquished before peace becomes possibility.
Serenity generates a similar sentiment. It is longer, more meditative. It is a good song to come to when the chatter inside your skull must be silenced. On the third listen, the carefully progressing cadence begins to resemble the ease of your breath.
The album is charming. The songs are a reminder to pause and abandon the relentless torment of responding to desire after desire after desire. You are asked to celebrate the incredible notion that there is more than enough to savour in a single breath.