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Beyond the Border: Rising Artists from Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Diaspora You Should Hear

This month, we check out U.K. label Chinabot’s new compilation, Nepal-origin American grindcore band Chepang and more

Anurag Tagat May 23, 2020

Indo-Swiss act Vince & the Girl. Photo: Roosevelt Choute

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Vince & The Girl

It doesn’t happen often that a Indo-Swiss collaboration’s debut song is actually in Japanese, but with vocal melodies informed by Indian classical music. Vocalist, actor and songwriter Saee Haldule-Bonvin has studied, worked and lived between India, Japan and parts of Europe. Her partner and Swiss musician Vincent Bonvin has had stints in rock and electronic projects. The resultant music is “Kyoto Aainori,” a Japanese language song that has a wistfulness which recalls Indian melodies, set to sweeping violin and guitars.

Flowers on Both Ears

Colombo duo Flowers on Both Ears deliver cosmic psychedelic rock-informed tunes on their debut EP UMA. Thematically, Shafni Awam draws from Islamic love poetry as well as nature and divinity. While the EP opens with guest guitar work from fellow Colombo band The Soul’s guitarist Sarani, Indian producer-DJ and vocalist Paloma Monnappa and Bangladesh’s Moumita take turns at the mic on the soothing “Amiga, mi corazon.” Songs like “Clitoria Ternatea” ebb and flow into lightheaded psychedelic and rock spaces, while “At her altar” runs into funky hip-hop territory and “Pheonix Zeylanica” closes with a seemingly ambient R&B sound.

Lady Kash

Singapore-born, Chennai-based Tamil-English hip-hop artist Lady Kash has been making in-roads into the film music industry – she worked with A.R. Rahman for Highway in 2014 and rapped on a song from Tamil movie Singham 3 – while also releasing her own material. “Villupaattu” (out in 2018) still chalks up numbers, but she recently released a new song called “Hennessy.” Produced by Tamil and Telugu film composer Vishal Chandrasekhar, “Hennessy” sees Kash at her distinctive best as a rapper, even if she’s singing about getting lovedrunk and woozy.

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In 2016, Nepal-origin grindcore band Chepang released their first record Lathi Charge that caught the attention of many in the underground and extreme metal world, more so considering they had set up base in New York by then. Self-styled at the time as “immigrindcore,” their 2017 record Dadhelo – A Tale of Wildfire gained them even more acclaim. A few split EPs and records later, their new album Chatta is an unsparing, shattering burst of punk, grind and metal rage. Songs like “Murkha” jump genres while “Antim Bhet” opens with a bellow of the saxophone, making Chatta a must-hear for any fan of extreme music.

Chinabot’s HKH Cryosphere

On their third annual compilation, U.K. label Chinabot feature artists linked by geographical roots of a very specific kind – The Hindu Kush Himalayas have 10 rivers that link countries including India, Pakistan, China, Nepal and more. The genre-defying 10-track HKH Cryosphere brings forward works by San Francisco-based Indian synthesist Ose aka Arushi Jain, Kolkata audio-visual artist Oblique aka Sourya Sen and Richmond-based Bengali artist Tavishi aka Sarmistha Talukdar. The label casts its net wider to present music by artists like Ramsha (Pakistan), The Nois Society (Nepal) and an Aussie-Bhutan collaboration between Yeshi Dem, Deki Wangmo and Amanda Terry.

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