One-thirds of Delhi-based group Teesri Duniya, Udbhav has often been seen as an up and coming virtuoso in lofi and chill-hop influenced rap. But much like the aforementioned Teesri Duniya, Udbhav doesn’t wish to conform within just the label of a “rapper”. He’s as talented in production too as is evident from most of his discography like his 2020 album Nanku Sharma. But when it comes to his skills as both a vocalist and a musician, Udbhav bears a multi-cultural sound that blends vintage brilliance with new-age experimentation. And that’s where his new album YATI shines.
With almost every track clocking over 5 to 7 minutes, this is definitely a deep listen with some really introspective lyrics and drastic changes in tone. Expect a lot of musical styles, different collaborators and some really ambitious interludes.
A lot of YATI relies on narratives that are open to interpretation and this adds to the interactive nature of it all. One can expect a sampling of a Hindu religious discourse (Satyanarayan Katha) or even a sudden acoustic transition to a song dedicated to a chipkali (lizard) in a washroom!
The sound is largely dependent on traces of industrial rock and avant garde music with its various samples and beat switches. Udbhav’s production is definitely way above the average Delhi sound (that’s mostly relying on derivative 808s or trap-style beats). But then again, as mention earlier, Udbhav is carving a niche of his own as a “genre-fluid” artist.
The diversity can be understood from the sheer range of songs that incorporate spoken word poetry, rap verses, autotune-laden crooning, mellow singing, and a lot more. For instance, the opening track Tab Tak evokes a dreamy soundscape which can be contrasted with a tribal percussive progression in Ikkeesvi Sadi. DKBN (short for Dikkat Ki Baat Nahi that roughly translates to “No Need to Worry”) has a more ambient and “chilled-out” vibe while also maintaining the industrial rock undertones. Khol Du is yet another track that ends with the lizard outro sung in all its acoustic glory by featured vocalist Rashim Anand.
Talking about guests on the track, Udbhav’s ensemble of collaborators definitely deserve a pat on their back, be it rapper Lil Kabeer or guitarist or vocalist Toorjo or ghatam player Shounok Banerjee, among many others.
At the end of the day, Udbhav’s sound is definitely developing with every new release and YATI adds further testimony. Rather than sounding like an “edgy” mishmash of multiple influences, Udbhav and his team’s free-flowing and interpretive approach allows the album to be one of the most engaging listens of this year so far.
Verdict: An ambitious amalgamation of influences and artists makes Udbhav’s YATI a worthy experiment.