Angad Berar Creates A ‘Hindustani Psychedelic’ Sojourn On New Album
Listen to the Bengaluru-based guitarist and composer’s krautrock-informed jams on ‘Elephants on the Beach’
As much as Bengaluru-based Angad Berar’s new album Elephants on the Beach is inspired by his time spent on the beaches in Anjuna, Goa, there’s a few other places that helped the guitarist-composer on his way to craft one of the most laidback yet excitable instrumental records this year.
Berar was first part of Pune-based rock band Same Shit Different Day (SSDD). “In the final days of SSDD, we had started venturing into heavy experimentations with analogue pedals and amps,” Berar says. By the end of 2013, the band called it a day and soon after, Berar moved to Thiruvananthapuram. With only a Takamine acoustic nylon string guitar in hand, the focus shifted on playing to play melodies and sounds that would “sound full,” inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
He also started “consciously” listening to Hindustani classical music and got inspired by Ustad Asad Ali Khan’s style of performing the rudra veena. He began recording and putting out ambient sketches and spontaneous recordings by 2018, but Elephants on the Beach is his debut studio effort. “Elephants showcases what I have learnt over the years and at what stage I am currently in from a guitarist, composer and a sound designer’s point of view,” he says.
Clocking in at just under an hour across eight tracks, the instrumental album stays lucid in its attempt to tell a story of a wide-eyed, open-hearted protagonist on a journey of self-discovery, aided by wisdom imparted by thinkers such as Mooji, Albert Hoffman and Alan Watts. While the title is taken from an incident that Berar experienced while in Anjuna, he adds, “[The album is] more of an ode to what ‘reality’ is. The scary, as well as the beautiful part of it, is that each one of us has a different perception of reality in general.”
From easygoing funk vibes that recall bands like Khruangbin (“Hazy Light, Sunlight,” “Diving,” “Between Dione and Mimas”) to spaced-out percussion-based krautrock (“AstroKnaut”) and shimmering lo-fi psychedelic rock (“Moonlovin”), Berar finally arrives at a sonic juncture that allows him to employ Hindustani classical-inspired guitar lines, tabla and tanpura-like drone on songs like “Svara,” “Dreamstate” and “Anjuna.”
He says about the sequence of the record, “The listener enters the album with a certain mood, goes through a few transitions/experiences and exits with a similar mood, but with the difference that they have seen a lot of funk in the middle. At least that’s what I tried to achieve.” New Delhi-based producer Ashrey Goel (from dream pop band Dee En) mixed and mastered Elephants on the Beach, giving it a shimmering edge throughout.
While Berar is involved with art projects that help him work in the space of sound design (as well as his day job as a designer), he says he’s working on more music for next year. The guitarist adds, “I personally feel I have barely scratched the surface with this philosophy and that I am only a student to this process. There is a long, long way to go…”