Sapta Plot Seventh Album, Announce Seven-city Tour
How Chennai’s leading electronic duo set about ‘Sapta’, their seventh and most important record
There’s a trace of acceptance as Marti Bharath jokes about his latest album possibly being the last. “7 albums done— maybe that’s the end of Sapta, who knows?” teases the Chennai-born, Dubai-raised and Paris-bred producer, as he references his golden number seven. Jokes apart, why wouldn’t Bharath be content with his band’s success so far? Along with bandmate and drummer Tapass Naresh, the producer has taken his genre-bending, electronically rooted live act further than most independent acts—through six solid albums and countless gigs and large-scale festivals across India and the rest of the world, since its inception as a solo project in Paris, 2007.
But Sapta aren’t stepping down—not just yet. The electronic duo are now on the brink of releasing their most experimental—and numerologically most important—self-titled album, which has been in the works since last September. The band even took the project directly to the fans, running a crowdfunding campaign to help sponsor the recording, mixing, mastering and merchandizing—although they met only 30 percent of their goal. Says Naresh, “The reason for crowdfunding was mainly so we could interact with the fans directly and give them an opportunity to work with us and help us achieve a small goal.”
Nonetheless, record number seven is clearly a significant move for Bharath, who’s always built his music, track listings and release dates [“even his body clock,” jokes Naresh] around the concept of sapta [Sanskrit for seven]. “Since it’s the seventh album we have to prove its hold,” says Bharath. “All these songs are pretty heavy, even in terms of the messages. It’s probably one of the heaviest albums in Sapta.” Part of what makes Sapta so “heavy” is Naresh’s feverish drumwork, a sharp change from the synth-driven coziness of its predecessor, 2015’s Intimate Comfort Unit, something that Bharath attributes to “more space created for Tapass”.
And it’s not only the loudest, but also their most collaborative output so far. “This album has been very collaborative,” says Naresh, who’s also the pounding, clanging force behind garage-rock metal-loving trio Skrat. “It was like a puzzle almost piece by piece… I’d be traveling and whenever I’d come in, I’d find a new addition.” The “new additions” included reverb-laden alt-rockers The F16s frontman Josh Fernandez, Bharath’s colleague and guitarist Matt Bacon, Skrat bandmates [vocalist-guitarist Sriram T.T. and bassist Jhanu Chanthar], and Chennai-based musicians Pradeep Kumar and Kavita Thomas—all of whom Naresh believes brought new dimensions to the album. [Chanthar left an impression on almost the entire record, contributing guitar samples to five of the seven tracks.] “It helps, the human element from outside. There’s more soul to the song and [it’s] not just something you can create straight off a computer,” the drummer explains.
Sure enough, Sapta [recorded at Bharath’s Chennai studio] belies its simplistic record name. Sapta traverse booming snake-charmer melodies [“The Bite of the Cobra”], dub-soaked debauchery [“Brown Sugar & All The Things”] and big-room euphoria [“Boy’s Night Out”] on seven tracks that marry the grace of Hindustani melodies with the force of drum n’ blistering bass. “We’ve structured it to a more live sounding album as opposed to something which is electronic,” says Naresh. “We’re just trying to find that perfect blend, and I think we’ve cracked it with this seventh album.”
The ‘Sapta’ Tour
July 7th, Secret Set, Chennai
July 7th, Khar Social, Mumbai
July 8th, High Spirits, Pune
July 9th, The Humming Tree, Bengaluru
July 15th, Summer House Cafe, Delhi
July 16th, The Farm World Cafe, Hyderabad
July 20th, S Cafe, Chandigarh