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HOIA Conjures Eerie Stories on Debut Album ‘Scavenger’

Mumbai-based Prateek Rajagopal’s experimental side brings together Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin and drummer Wojtek Deregowski

Anurag Tagat Apr 09, 2019

Mumbai-based producer and guitarist Prateek Rajagopal aka HOIA. Photo: Todd Turner

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While Muscat-bred, Mumbai-based producer and guitarist Prateek Rajagopal is often on the road with brutal death metallers Gutslit, he definitely didn”™t want his solo project HOIA to ease into inertia. He says, “I didn”™t want to be a bedroom producer who just writes a shitload of stuff and leaves it on his laptop. It”™s great for me, because it”™s almost like a stamp in time, where I can look back and say, ”˜This is what I was feeling back then.”™”

HOIA”™s debut full-length album Scavenger ”“ which follows up two 2017 EPs Iconoclast and Design ”“ continues his compositional affinity for all things murky. The five-track record clocks in at just over half an hour and details stories of “basic human sentimentality and emotions” set to synth and guitar parts that often switch places between layers and leads. Rajagopal mentions he originally wrote 13 tracks and whittled it down to the five that he “wrote from a more honest place.” He adds, “It”™s not happy music and it wasn”™t like I consciously made that decision. I look back at it as something that came out of me and now it”™s there. I don”™t think I can sit tomorrow with the guitar and synth and recreate any of this.”

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While songs like “Write Across” and “Escape Orb” cover nostalgia and melancholy alike, Rajagopal masks the dominant emotion in fictional stories that are open to interpretation. The opening songs weave in and out of dark instrumental passages to prog-heavy riffs, while “Electric Wizard” sees HOIA tinker with synths and guitar effects more than ever before, building a wall of hair-raising sounds. The tracks even set in an uneasy amount of silence at times, building into interludes like “Part II.” The album”™s title track details a story of a beast who feeds on hopes and dreams. Deep in prog territory, Rajagopal surprises with a new perspective in the storyline, introducing a bright bluesy detour. He says, “I didn”™t want to end the album in a necessarily dark way. I wanted there to be some emotional hope as well, because I was feeling quite hopeful in my life as well.”

In the works since 2017, Rajagopal also enlisted Poland drummer Wojtek Deregowski (“I”™ve not worked with somebody and felt so happy before,” the guitarist gushes) and British prog rock veterans Porcupine Tree”™s bassist Colin Edwin. Rajagopal adds, “I wanted something tasteful, that can be heard in the mix but can also be subconscious. I felt Colin”™s work was always like that for me when I heard Porcupine Tree.” With a music video for “Write Across” out, Scavenger is out in full on April 19th.

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Stream ‘Scavenger’ below.

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