Traveling in India as well as other foreign lands, producer Koothu is open to experimentation with all sorts of soundscapes that he encounters. And his latest EP bears testimony to this fact. Aptly titled iNDiATMOSPHERE, it boasts of some amusing sampling, Carnatic influences, atmospheric percussion, among other instrumental styles.
The EP is supposed to present sonic documentation of his travels all across the country presented in 7 instrumental tracks with only one featuring vocals from Bengaluru heavyweights Smokey the Ghost and MC Bijju. The latter is a catchy number christened South Indian Blues featuring effortlessly laidback flows from both seasoned rappers. It’s a good-enough track featuring two highly talented rappers. However, South Indian Blues works well if heard in isolation. It seems like an interlude while the other songs, in contrast, make for an interesting sequence of moods united by Koothu’s sense of exploration.
You know a record is a concept-based one when you have an intro track like Namaskar. The opening chapter Namaskar runs for slightly more than a minute and introduces Koothu’s classical-influenced production while a robotic monotonous voice instructs the viewers on what to expect. For instance, this narration explains how iNDiATMOSPHERE is going to be laden with samples from Bollywood films as well as sounds of everyday suburban phenomena.
Now, Bollywood samples have been an aesthetic choice for many a producer to the point it became an overdone trope, more so after Nucleya reintroduced an artistic fascination with B-grade cinema and vintage Bollywood samples. However, Koothu’s approach towards using such dialogues samples isn’t ‘gimmicky’. His choices go well with the overall atmosphere and the EP often transitions between chaotic and meditative moods.
Delhicious, the second track, makes use of such a vintage Bollywood dialogue and sets it against screeching, high-pitched Bollywood strings. It’s an interesting chaotic assortment of sounds but not the point of being overkill. Fingerprinted similarly utilizes audio snippets from the cult classic Gandhi. We hear Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi as he touches upon some motivational and spiritual matters (passages taken from Gandhi’s publication Young India) and right before the final minute, the calming dialogues suddenly change to ‘our wives and mothers are whores, and every man here is a bastard’!
The latter dialogues is again a quote from a particularly angry scene from the film, but its suddenness is absurdly noteworthy. Basically, Koothu rarely presents a similar mood. He loves playing around with moods and sounds and his versatility is noteworthy.
So, if the track Broken Rickshaw incorporates a shehnai-like wind instrumental sound, Delhicious also features some haunting xylophone-like clinking. Percussion, however, seems to be a running theme with local hand drums forming the crux of tracks like South Indian Blues, and Hot Chicken Soup.
Considering the EP doesn’t shy away from its length of 8 tracks, it might be quite heavy for listeners to listen in one go (especially given how a few tracks brim with chaotic textures). Hence, one can grasp Koothu’s iNDiATMOSPHERE at their own pace, but once they do grasp it all, the aftertaste will definitely be worth it.
For a change, we have an instrumental EP where the producer doesn’t rely on similar 808 patterns, trap beats, or heavy bass drops. Avid listeners of producers like the Detroit-techno auteur Juan Atkins can draw some comparisons with a few tracks. But all in all, iNDiATMOSPHERE is as original as it gets, offering a promising musical future for Koothu.
Verdict: A Pan-Indian dish with many flavours. Consume it at your own pace. And then relish the aftertaste.