Delhi-based duo Kalbaisakhi comprises two budding artists, Vibhu and Vikramaditya ( although their debut instrumental project is entirely the result of the former’s production). Titled Tunnels, the 7-track EP marks the official debut of producer Vibhu Singh who has otherwise been making beats on his social media handles.
Like many other artists from the previous year, Tunnels is another record that seems to epitomize the sounds of the lockdown period. An instrumental record from start to finish, Tunnels doesn’t drag on as each track seems to embody a different genre. On a whole, it can be deemed as a lo-fi compilation but it transcends beyond the chillwave and lofi stereotypes and incorporates elements from R&B and hip-hop as well as a few experimental subgenres like psychedelic.
One of the standout tracks is the one that opens Tunnels. SOUL’D OUT is an atmospherically rich track that begins with what seems like a vintage film dialogue and proceeds with some breezy vocal samples, that might end up giving off a spiritual aura. While the aforementioned song benefits from some calming, soothing production, there are other stand-out tracksl like BLIP TRVP that explores a slightly more upbeat, head-bobbing territory. The one amusingly christened ‘Mom this isn’t candy’ again allows Vibhu to give off a hallucinatory aura, making the EP as a whole perfect for a night-time listening session.
Filled with mellow beats and spacey synths (especially in the final track Voyager 22), there’s a lot to take away from Tunnels. For those who ardently appreciate the discography of artists like Kavinsky or Kyle Dixon & Michael Dixon (the composers for the 80s-influenced show Stranger Things), Tunnels will be quite a treat. When compared to similar indie instrumental EPs and albums by rising producers, this EP fares slightly better because of its lack of monotony.
It’s a risky choice to release an entire tracklist of instrumentals and expecting listeners to stream it from start to finish. Even though some of the tracks might unintentionally seem to be a tad bit derivative from other chillwave producers, the monotony still seems to be absent mainly because of the diversity of the sounds. As mentioned before, the producer relies on multi-genre influences. So, this choice ensures that none of the tracks follow the same pace or sound.
While BLIP TRVP sounds like it’s straight out of a chaotic, bustling marketplace, Floyd gives off a very calm late-night vibe.
At the same time, the ‘night-time drive/sci-fi soundtrack/looped lo-fi beats’ style doesn’t get chaotic enough for the songs to not be linked thematically. In the end, Tunnels is a highly promising debut that is worthy of being played on repeat for the sheer sonic versatility on producer Vibhu Singh’s part.
Verdict: A hallucinatory set of calming instrumentals, echoing several styles and influences.