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New Music: Classical Guitar, Dancehall, Indie Rock and More

We round up the latest from guitarist Abhinav Saxena, alt/prog rock band Hourglass Inversion, producer-DJ Su Real’s collab with Reggae Rajahs’ General Zooz and singer-songwriter Komal Panwar, amongst others

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Anurag Tagat Jul 14, 2020

Mumbai-based guitarist Abhinav Saxena. Photo: Andrea Fernandes

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Look Up & Smile by Abhinav Saxena

A seasoned guitarist who’s worked with the likes of vocalist Vibha Saraf, Mumbai-based classical guitarist Abhinav Saxena recorded and released his new album Look Up & Smile entirely whilst in lockdown. Inspired by everything from meditation to Malian kora artist Toumani Diabate, there’s a spellbinding tranquil quality to the 11-track album, which Saxena terms as a personification of his philosophy to stop and take a breather. Songs like “Dreams of a River” and “Rise” are wispy listens, while “Night Flight” shows off flittering acoustic guitar work to explore a darker mood. Deeply introspective cuts include “Swimming Trails” and his “Mountain” trio of songs for morning, afternoon and night.

“Frontier” by Hourglass Inversion

Garnering praise from the likes of American rock/metal guitarist Mark Tremonti (from Alter Bridge/Creed), Pune prog band Hourglass Inversion’s new song “Frontier” is a riff-driven, surging rock song which released last month. The hopeful track is certainly anthem-like in some ways, but mostly calls for strength and self-belief in times of need. The song features ominous passages but also brings forward a bass solo from Hemant Aligi and a scorcher of a guitar lead from Savio Sebastian.

“Turn Around” by Komal Panwar

Jaipur-based singer-songwriter Komal Panwar released her first English song last month, showcasing hummable melodies that play to her pop songwriting strengths (with composer Alvin Stanly). Featuring rock arrangements and a vocal melody as the main hook (Panwar’s “choo choo” vocalizing cheekily visualized by a train rolling through in the animated lyric video), the artist dives into a sort of serious attraction in a bid to woo a person.

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“House on Fire” by Loose Puppets

Chandigarh alt/prog rock trio Loose Puppets shows us that rock is still alive and spreading all over, particularly thanks to the legacy of prog-leaning artists such as Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree. Loose Puppets came together in 2016 and are now out with their debut single “House on Fire.” Sticking to a slow-built melancholy sound that’s grounded in acoustic guitar, they build up to a punchier progression that sits just right.

“Indian Wine” by General Zooz x Su Real

Teaming up with dancer and choreographer Jahnavi Sheriff and her crew, producer-DJ Su Real and reggae MC-producer General Zooz (from Reggae Rajahs) walk their own path with their new single “Indian Wine.” The dancehall tune features Sheriff and dancers perform a step called Indian Wine and team up with Bharatnatyam artists for the seismic song, one that stays true to Su Real’s ability to craft unshakeable dancehall that features hints of moombahton, reggaeton and trap.

“Home Song” by Purple Cassette

New Delhi rock band Purple Cassette originally started out with punk leanings in New York, with guitarist-vocalist Ishan Kumar being a founder member. You wouldn’t be able to tell if you heard their debut release “Home Song,” though, which puts forward a warming Sixties-esque laidback style, reminiscent of the Velvet Underground in its simplicity. In this song specifically, Kumar addresses “the feeling of unease and fear that has circulated amongst the masses.” Joined by bassist Siddharth Rajan (from prog/alt rock band The Uncertainty Principle), there’s an important story of human nature and the importance of community in the song.

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