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Black Letters: Taking New Shape

Bengaluru-based alt rock band Black Letters are turning away from their arena rock-leaning debut to a dream pop-influenced sound on their new EP

Anurag Tagat Apr 10, 2015
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Black Letters. Photo: Jason Kurien.

Black Letters. Photo: Francis Kurien.

When you talk to Sharath Narayan, vocalist-guitarist of Kochi/Bengaluru alt rock band Black Letters, you feel like he’s in the middle of an existential crisis. He rambles on about ego and “escaping constraints” and oneness like a guru, but later explains that a trip to Wayanad last year, the green resort district in north Kerala, sparked a complete change in songwriting for the band. Says Narayan, “You realize everything is connected. For an ant on the wall, its entire world is just that wall, but when you zoom out, that wall is part of a house, which is part of a city.”

This newfound presence of mind seems to be driving the new Black Letters EP, Petrichor, which is due for release in May. The band, who started out in 2007, have written new dream pop-inspired material that isn’t remotely close to their big sound alt rock heard on their debut Shapes on the Wall, released in 2014. Says Narayan, “With the album, we didn’t want to waste a single idea ”“ that’s why there are so many shifts in every track on Shapes on the Wall. With the EP, we’ve kept it straightforward. It’s very soothing, light and has certain dream pop elements.” The Wayanad trip-inspired “One Moment,” is their first single slated to release in April. The EP, which is yet to be mixed, also includes trippy light-headed songs such as “Phila” and “Autumn Hue,” which Narayan describes as “a very soft song.”

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But like Shapes, the new EP Petrichor still retains Black Letters’ signature importance towards melody. Drawing from bands such as American shoegaze act Deerhunter, American chillwave artist Washed Out and Canadian art-rock band Braids, Narayan says that the band began writing and recording Petrichor in December last year at his home studio in Bengaluru. Black Letters has been road-testing the songs at shows across South India, including clubs like Hard Rock Café in Bengaluru and more recently, at the Mojo Rising Festival, organized in Kochi by music performance show Music Mojo, which airs on Malayalam channel Kappa TV. Narayan says it’s been a task to alternate between the old, bright-and-sunny rock songs and new, lighter, hookier material from Petrichor. Says the vocalist, “It totally sounds like two different bands now.”

Watch the video for “Phila” here

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiMn2udbmTo[/youtube]

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