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Amyt Datta and Jivraj Singh Start New Project

PINKNOISE duo’s Fractal play the Delhi Jazz Festival

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Neha Sharma May 03, 2011
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When the duo of Amyt Datta (Skinny Alley and PINKNOISE guitarist) and Jivraj Singh (PINKNOISE drummer) played at the Delhi Jazz Festival last month, their music channelled deviance at a concert which played well within the bounds of customary jazz and popular music. This was the duo’s first gig as Fractal (the working title of their new project). While Datta took on the guitars and synthesiser, Singh worked his beat science from behind a drum kit and digital console. It was an elaborate sound factory employing a host of effects and textures. The duo constructed this evocatively cryptic sound ”“ twisted compositions, broken phrases, oblique narratives and sonic vagaries overwhelmed by eccentricity. Inspiring a strong sense of irony, Fractal’s instrumental music emphasises contradictions on sound with notes that seemed to be placed in careful disarray. Datta’s new musical foray requires an open ear and patient listening.

Datta’s hunger for ingenuity and novelty on sound is evidenced in the slightly esoteric and not as easily accessible nature of this project. “That’s the whole composition concept ”“ it is open-ended but within a structure. It’s kind of an overall parameter that we’ve given ourselves. If you listen to us five times you’ll get the trip. This is like a cooler, hipper, angular and jagged trip. You have to educate yourself a little bit from the listener’s point of view and have bigger and better ears. That’s how music stretches and that’s how it becomes a more contemporary and modern, in pushing the limits,” he says. Fractal is, to Datta, an antidote to creative restiveness and an escape from complacency. “It’s stretching your imagination and not staying in the comfort zone which is kind of an easy cop-out.”

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Discussing the process of songwriting, Datta suggests that, in some way, it follows his solo album. “I just recorded my album with [Singh], which was more conventional but still challenging. That was based on the In-sen scale. The intro is kind of based on that, even though I am playing the same set of notes, the complexion of the scale is removed, a little twisted, so a little bit of an unresolved sound comes out. Believe it or not, there are so many Indian scales that I am using, and a lot of ragas that I am using but they are not always identifiable. I am using a lot of Indian elements in my vocabulary. But they’re so mixed up on a molecular level, that you don’t know what is what anymore and therein lies the fun. For me, it’s like organised chaos.”

Fractal’s music seems like a score out of the film noir genre, feeding a grim cinematic expression. Singh, who is also an aspiring filmmaker, affirms this connect. “David Lynch is a huge influence. Primarily Lynch and some of the Soviet cinema of the Seventies which is very industrial”¦ There is this very strong mood of despair and defeat, but it’s very uplifting at the end of the movie for some strange reason,” he says. From amongst musicians, Singh suggests the Nine Inch Nails as an influence emphasising on the “very industrial and very brutal” quality of the sound.

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Fractal has already recorded a few of its compositions and says that the album is almost ready. Most of the tracks – which take root as visions and ideas in

Datta’s mind – like ”˜Corridors,’ ”˜Impressionist,’ ”˜Camellia,’ ”˜Ambiance the Dance,’ ”˜Pulse’ and ”˜Electric Insanity’ furnish an experience, a feeling or abstract notion. While Datta has a story for each one of them and how they came to be, these pieces of music are best absorbed as sensory figments.

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