Hyderabad Artist Visita Taps Into Neo-Classical on ‘An Ode to the Morphing Muse’ EP
The opening track ‘A Lasting First Impression’ brings together guitar, violoncello, piano and soprano vocals
If all had gone according to plan, 2020 was going to be the most prolific year for Hyderabad-based guitarist and composer Vivek Venugopal aka Visita. He says, “I had planned four releases this year. The lockdown has certainly led to a massive backlog in the execution of my projects. There are four new projects, composed and waiting to be recorded, and it is of course very frustrating, but what can one do in such unprecedented times.”
Nevertheless, this month marks the release of his latest record An Ode to the Morphing Muse, which follows-up the two-part Chronicles record (released in mid-2019 and January 2020). The four movements brings together Venugopal on guitar duties for two pieces, “A Lasting First Impression” and “Dreams & Resonances.” Mumbai-based Salome leads with breathtaking Soprano vocals on all tracks, alongside Russian artist Tatiana Kritskaya on violoncello (formerly part of the Symphony Orchestra of India). Hyderabad-based pianist Jay Parte features on three pieces, while Anusha Ramasubramoney (from acoustic duo Second Sight) lends Alto vocals on the closing movement “Exultation, Liberation.”
Venugopal adds about the longish road to completing the EP, “The project was recorded in December last year, and we had almost finished the post production in March. The mix was mostly over but not the master and then due to the pandemic, everything came to a standstill for about four months, after which we could finish it.” Leading with a enchanting blend of guitar, string and piano, Salome’s measured vocalizing create an additional emotive flourish to “A Lasting First Impression.”
Unlike recent material which has seen the artist assume the role of a composer more than a guitarist, Venugopal says the bulk of “A Lasting First Impression” originated on the guitar. He says about the rest of the compositions, “On the fourth movement, I started off with a single melody that I arranged for two voices [Salome and Ramasubramoney], so as to create harmonic interplay, and then I added the piano and cello.”
Composed within two months, An Ode to the Morphing Muse presented a challenge more in terms of execution due to the pandemic. There will be another Visita release out later this year as well, called Op.7 Reveries. There’s five pieces composed for piano, violin and cello, all recorded prior to the pandemic. As a Visita record, Venugopal notes the forthcoming release marks a “mixed media collaboration” with Kolkata-based visual artist Devi Ganguly. Also designing the artwork for An Ode to the Morphing Muse, Venugopal says there’s more than just music coming up. “Visita has always been about mixed media, but the narrative that goes with the music has been predominantly textual and conceptual, up until this point. Now I intend to give more prominence to visual art, and painting in particular, and I’m delighted that an artist like Devi is on board,” he adds.
Listen to “A Lasting First Impression” below. Artwork by Devi Ganguly. Pre-order here.