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Letterz Drop Dexterous Debut EP ‘Imagine Salt’

The Mumbai instrumental/progressive metal band offer tasty guitar riffs, pulsating drum grooves, clever dynamics and more across the six-track record

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David Britto Jul 20, 2020

Mumbai instrumental/prog metal band Letterz live at city-based music festival Control Alt Delete earlier this year. Photo: Swaraj Sriwastav

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If you’ve ever caught Mumbai instrumental/progressive metal band Letterz live, you know that there’s plenty to soak in while they are on stage. The band – comprising guitarists Tejas Narayan, Asxem Dlean, Shannon George, bassist Adil Kurwa and drummer Aritra Basu – have perfected a seamless live set over the last two years filled with complexity and grit. “It’s been a learning process with constant tweaking with each time we play. Using a backing track and a click is very integral to the sound of the band,” says Kurwa.

Two years on since the release of their emphatic single “Toad,” Letterz are now out with their debut six-track EP titled Imagine Salt. In between opening for Canadian prog band Intervals for their Mumbai show last year as well as putting on an energetic display at Control Alt Delete this past February, the band spent most of the last 24 months polishing and tracking the record. Kurwa says, “We also changed our band name to ‘Letterz’ [from Letters] due to some clashes with another music catalog.”

Five of the six songs on the record have been penned by Narayan (“Redefine” was written by Dlean) who initially began Letterz as a studio project. Plastered across the entire EP is a plethora of dynamism, splendid guitar riffs interspersed with electronic layers as well as throbbing drum and bass grooves. Narayan, the group’s founder says, “All my songs start from some new guitar technique or drum groove or some chord change that I fall in love with. From there I build the song.”

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Imagine Salt opens with the crunchy “Redefine” which immediately sets the tone for the EP. According to Dlean, the track’s title is apt as it’s been through the workshop quite a lot and had 30 different versions. “[At one point] it even had vocals,” says Dlean. Next, the record moves onto their previously released single “Toad” before we hear the fierce title track in all its glory, inspired by California instrumental rock band Sleeping People. Narayan says, “The different sections of the song play out like a detective novel. There’s something noir-ish about the song.”

The EP then flows into the raucous “More Zero” which the band explains is “one of the few tracks of ours that doesn’t change tempo.” The group’s 2018 boisterous single “Microchip Cookie” is the penultimate track on the record before it closes with the mind-bending djent offering “Gentlemen.” “It is my experimental entry into this genre,” says Narayan.

The band recorded all their guitar and bass parts at Narayan’s home studio while Basu tracked his drum parts at his own home. Although the band added their own inputs and sensibilities to the music, Kurwa tells us that it was Narayan who led the charge and produced the majority of the EP as well as mixed it. The group also roped in Indo-American prog-rockers Skyharbor’s guitarist Keshav Dhar to master the record. “He’s [Dhar] one person that keeps evolving and is really easy to work with,” says the bassist.

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Like most musicians, Letterz’s plan to tour the record once it was released has been thrown out the window due to the coronavirus pandemic. But they are working on playthrough videos as well as an animated clip for “Imagine Salt” to promote the EP. The band already has new material down for which they will begin tracking soon, with the next single being “Unknown Baboon.” Kurwa says, “As we get deeper into this pandemic, we will have to be creative about staying relevant and experiment with different content.”

Stream ‘Imagine Salt’ on Spotify below and click here to listen to it on Apple Music. 

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