Multi-instrumentalist Shreyas Iyengar is one of the freshest faces of neo-jazz in the Indian indie scene right now. He doesn’t seem to be the one who just subscribes to a purist version of Western jazz. Instead, his brand of jazz seems to merge both playful improvisation and serious skills for a more listener-friendly experience that can impress both auteurs as well as newbies to the genre. His latest four-track EP OST bears testimony to this fact.
The EP opens with Pinocchio, a delightfully chaotic amalgamation of Iyengar’s sax and Varun Venkit’s percussion. The latter relies on an inventory of djembes, congas, and dununs for both Pinocchio and the closing track Weird Flex.
Both tracks are positioned as the first and the last respectively but are connected with a wavering sound. As is true with several jazz compositions, OST’s four chapters (and more specifically Pinocchio and Weird Flex) are filled with “up and down” transitions of energies. And the opening and closing tracks sound distinct yet familiar, weaving a full circle out of the EP.
This is perhaps evident from the abstract and surreal cover art too. Depicting a beastly humanoid staring at endless reflections of itself in mirrors, the EP subtly indicates how it is the perfect soundtrack for a time-loop. And despite the allegory of repetition, OST never ceases to get boring. There’s something for everyone with even singer Pratika Gopinath lending her effortlessly smooth vocals on Glitter Gang and Plastic Joys.
It doesn’t make much sense to dissect the thematic elements of the EP for despite Iyengar’s personal inspiration behind the album, the compositions seem to be open for interpretation. Just look at Plastic Joys as a case in point. The track seems all merry but Gopinath’s lyrics delve into the fallacies of the world and the masks that people wear in this “plastic world” with its “plastic joys”.
Some listeners can bob their heads thinking of OST as a merry collection of energetic tracks while others might look at it from a more mellow lense with the instrumental energy revealing a certain frustration. Whatever be the case, it cannot be denied that OST is quite a fresh EP and deserves way more recognition even among non-jazz listeners.
Verdict: A lively 4-track jazz collection.