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Exclusive Premiere: Inalab Fuse Gritty Electronica with Drum and Bass on Debut EP ‘The Commons’

The record has been released via Bengaluru label Oaf Records

David Britto Apr 15, 2020

New Delhi electro-rock outfit Inalab. Photo: Sara Nishika Doyle

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Although Inalab started off as New Delhi bassist Gaurav Balani’s (from rockers Parikrama) collaborative project, over the last year the outfit has morphed into a fully-fledged band with permanent members playing live shows. “Since the first gig our lineup has been the same,” says Balani. In addition to the bassist, the group now includes flautist Shashank Singhania, vocalist Shruti Dhasmana, keyboardist Archit Anand and drummer Suyash Gabriel. With the team secured, Balani and co. are now out with Inalab’s debut five-track EP The Commons, via Bengaluru’s Oaf Records.

The idea for the EP came about after the band performed a few gigs together. Balani wanted to capture the raw energy the musicians created on stage and bring it onto a record. Even though most of the material was already written by the bassist the other members contributed as much as they could by “altering arrangements and creating their own parts.” Ask Balani what the recording process was like and he says, “The guys are super professional and they came fully prepared to the recording studio.” He adds, “Honestly, working with these guys was a big learning experience for me personally and I can’t wait to compose more music with the band.”

The Commons opens with Inalab’s robust 2016 debut single “Bonzo” which according to Balani is about “a dog that was subjected to physical violence to prevent him from ‘ruining’ the plants in a public park.” The record moves on to the glitchy title-track before working its way into the transcending “Tilikum.” He says, “[This] song is about a whale named Tilikum, who was a captive orca at SeaWorld and due to anxiety and stress, he ended up killing his own trainer.” The EP then simmers down for “Interlude” before the record closer “Unstoppable” takes a drastic sonic shift towards a more saccharine pop sound. “The audience response to this song at our live set is very funny because they all look pretty surprised or relieved hearing a happy pop song,” says Balani.

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On the overall direction of the EP, Balani says, “It derives inspiration from a lot of dark themes like the current state of the common people in our country.” Sonically the record is filled with gritty electronica tones juxtaposed with bashing grooves, melodic keyboard and flute work as well as soaring vocals.

Inalab recorded The Commons at New Delhi’s Ferris Wheel Studios and Kintsugi Studios. The band co-produced the EP alongside Indo-American prog band Skyharbor’s guitarist Keshav Dhar who also mixed and mastered the project.

With touring not an option at this moment in time due to the current coronavirus pandemic, Inalab are relying on digital promotions to support the EP. With music videos for “The Commons” and “Tilikum” now out, the group are also readying footage from their recording sessions as a behind the scenes look at the entire process along with livestream performances online. The band have also recorded more songs with a different identity to their sound which they want to release by the end of the year. “We’re praying that the current state of affairs gets better so we can all get on with our lives and do what we love doing,” says Balani.

Stream ‘The Commons’ below:

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