Hailing from Surrey, Asad Khan aka Khanvict is a DJ with multiple sounds and influences, as is evident from his collaborations with Indian and Indian-origin artists. His recent EP Escape offers six tracks of escapism, aiming to capture the solidarity and melancholia that this pandemic has been bringing upon people since the last year.
In fact, in an attempt to bring people together, Khan had started a series of weekly live streams on Twitch that attracted thousands of listeners. The musical result of these live streams eventually resulted in Escape, a perfect amalgamation of new-age bass-driven electro as well as some soulful instrumental melodies. Tracks like Something Worth Protecting or Heavy offer upbeat tones while Impedance relies on painfully beautiful violin notes, courtesy of Bay Area’s violinist Raaginder. The latter also opens the album.
Then, a song like KIngdom (that plays out as the third chapter of Escape) allows Khanvict to offer some head-bobbing energy while Carnatic vocalist Amritha Shakti sets the mood. KIngdom then transitions towards a more introspective and politically charged single titled Closer. The song relies on Khanvict’s usual brand of rich, ambient electronica, supported with a faint Punjabi vocal ensemble. Overall, the so-called ‘vibe’ of the song can be compared to other diaspora-related sounds like MEMBA’s Aisha’ Song and Jai Wolf’s Indian Summer. The similarities aside, Closer is definitely a standout track (with maybe Impedance serving as a close contender) and conveys Khanvict’s approach at relying on a plethora of Indian sounds and blending them under his own style of neo-fusion.
At the same time, the producer doesn’t rely on such influences as just a gimmick. None of the songs turn Escape into a mishmash. Instead, each one can very well stand on its own as a solo offering. Khanvict’s vision of evoking the South-Asian diaspora’s culture and issues are also brought out in an accompanying video for Closer.
The video focuses on a dark-skinned woman who’s shown to be facing racist and colourist attitudes by her own South-Asian peers. Finally, she ends up shedding the facade that they expect her to be subjected to. Instead, she adorns herself as Kali and starts dancing on her own to celebrate her freedom. The image of Kali is one that has been used more than often in indie music videos denoting female trials and tribulations. Yet, the underlying message and Anjali Nayar’s direction brings out some powerful and aesthetic visuals that suit the single’s heartwarming tones.
The EP finally draws to a close with the titular finale. Escape, the closing track, is lazily paced and might be appreciated to the fullest by sitar auteurs. Featured guest, Sharanjeet Singh Mand plays the sitar with a meditative aura serving as the perfect end. Even though Khanvict had his moments of relatively more modernistic fusion, he tends to adopt a more traditional approach for this track.
In a way, the EP as a whole seems to be capturing the calm before the storm (Impedance), the actual storm and its turbulence (Heavy and Something Worth Protecting), and the calm after the storm when it all settles down (Escape). The storm, in this, metaphorical interpretation, can obviously be compared to the aforementioned pandemic from which we all yearn an ‘escape’.
Verdict: Escape offers you escapism and holds your attention, from the start to the finish.