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Hoirong Get Loud and Brash on New Album ‘Hope & Light’

The lo-fi rock band talk about working remotely and poring over each note across 12 tracks

Anurag Tagat Sep 06, 2020

Bengaluru/New Delhi rock band Hoirong. Photo: Pranav Gohil

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Say what you will about the perception that lo-fi, punk-rock might involve care-a-damn songwriting, but rock band Hoirong‘s guitarist Akhil Sood says they were “obsessively working and reworking” the songs on their latest album Hope & Light to the minutest detail. “It’s a cliche but each note, each stray feedback screech in there has been dissected by us and exists for a reason,” he says.

That kind of commitment is what shows up on the 12-track Hope & Light, making it a worthy listen for anyone who’s a fan of the band’s noisy rock as well as vocalist-guitarist Kamal Singh‘s open-ended, melancholic lyricism and delivery over the fist-tight rhythmic combo of drummer Akshat Nauriyal and bassist Avinash Manoli.

Sood notes that on the six-and-a-half-minute track “Hope,” Singh recorded vocals “some hundred times until it worked.” Then, on the menacing, fuzzy riff-bearing anthem “Best Friends Forever,” the guitarist says he altered his part after Singh changed the inflection of the word “so” in the lyrics. Sood adds, “Usually, this intricate process of fine-tuning and detailing happens on a personal level — we do it individually while writing/recording our separate parts, and then Kamal has to do it again while doing the vocals/piecing together everything/producing. This time, it happened in a collaborative way as well, with a lot of back-and-forth over small details.”

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The process of making Hope & Light was so demanding that Singh mentions they took a break by way of working on Into The Sunset And Back – A Daniel Johnston Tribute, which they put out in June, featuring covers of the late American singer-songwriter known for shaping alternative music. Heard on Hope & Light are Mizo–Manipuri-Japanese-English bops (“Silence,”) ear-splitting dissonance (“Lemonade,”) irony laced cheeky, grungy tunes like “Disco Dance Party,” “Sour Grapes” and “Tumbleweed” and mosh-ready tunes like “Boochie,” plus a juxtaposition of warm melodies and seemingly mindless guitar leads clashing on “Gatara Patara.” Singh, who spent several 18-hour days on the final production and mixing, tells us, “Polished was not the intention as much as a clarity. There is a lot happening and everything had to come through to make sense.”

The founder adds that normally there is a sense of where things are heading sonically for Hoirong, but he’s not fully sure following the release of Hope & Light. Ask them what they’re plotting through 2020 and 2021 and the answers are typically Hoirong. Sood says, “Hopefully a vaccine” while Singh adds, “I’m looking for a break — couple more things to deal with and figure out and I will turn myself into a snail.”

Listen to ‘Hope & Light’ below. Stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

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