Nivid is Aditya Virmani, a composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer based in New Delhi, his recorded work being entirely a one-man project, his live performances being with a specially assembled band – Devasheesh Sharma (guitars), Sudeep Saxena (drums) and Nihar Apte (bass). Inspired in particular by the gnarled, intoxicating music of Nine Inch Nails, Virmani is also behind the boutique media and audio design studio, Barren Sound.
The new single, “Mazhab” is the closing track of the concept album, Mernã, which sees Agent 2344, a Hindu recruited by religious zealots to spread chaos, only for him to realise the errors of his ways and fear for his own life and soul. In its own right, “Mazhab” is a startling release, at odds with the religious idolatry often associated with India and willing to question whether organised faith really does bring people together or actually drives them further apart.
“Mazhab” is released at a time when religion has been seen as a factor in localised terrorism across India, has exacerbated recent farmer’s protests and has seen accusations of large religious gatherings contributing to the current COVID disaster.
“Mazhab” features Nivid painting detailed, layered soundscapes from a wide tonal palette. While it doesn’t have loud metal guitars like some of Nine Inch Nails’ tracks like “Last”, “Wish” and “Suck”, it does have an intriguing song structure, featuring shifting arrangements filled with novel sounds and a decent amount of textural variety.
The pacing, sonic juxtapositions and sudden shifts in tone make “Mazhab” a really invigorating listen. For a track with such textural diversity, the songwriting is extremely catchy, especially the relentless mazhab ke naam pe mujhko tu baandhta raha hai section. While the mood of the track is unflinchingly bleak, it isn’t just an empty gesture from Nivid. The lyrics and the vocal delivery are oozing with sincerity and honesty. The track ends on an intoxicating peak, fusing drama and introspection in a wonderful way. Sometimes fiction can be much closer to facts than we expect.