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New Music: Metal from Ranchi, Hip-Hop from Lucknow, Funk-Pop from Pune and More

Hear the latest from Shillong folk act Da Minot, rapper-producer pairing Skopos x Blxse and singer-songwriter Jonah Pamei, amongst others

Anurag Tagat Dec 12, 2020

(Clockwise from top row) Lucknow rapper Shashank, Mumbai producer Dronark, New Delhi hip-hop artist Ags the Silver, producer Skopos, rapper Blxse, alternative band Screetus and metallers Iris 13. Photos: Courtesy of Paradigm Records (Skopos, Blxse), Swaroop Production (Iris 13), Courtesy of the artists (Dronark, Shashank, Ags the Silver, Screetus)

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Varchasva II by Ags the Silver

At 20, New Delhi rapper and sound engineer Agrya Srivastava aka Ags the Silver already has four albums to his name, mining his love for hip-hop and trap as well as his interest in mythology. On his new album Varchasva II, topics like cars, heartbreaks and Delhi are par for the course, but things get interesting when screams, riffs and double-bass drumming bring in a metal turn on “Bodycount,” which makes Ags the Silver an artist to watch.

“Chup Chup” by Gaurav Tophakhane

After taking on moody singer-songwriter material and electronic soundscapes, Pune singer-songwriter Gaurav Tophakhane hops aboard the groove train with his latest single “Chup Chup.” The carpe diem song is injected with a trumpet section and a celebratory big band sound, making for a shimmering pop track.

“My Fall” by Jonah Mpamei

Although he’s been a regular with cover videos for a few years now, singer-songwriter Johah Pamei began putting out his singles for streaming only in 2017, highlighting his gentle, sublime croon. Hailing from Tamenglong, Manipur, Pamei turns introspective and even more tender on his string-aided new song “My Fall.”

“Blackout” by Iris 13

Previously known as Destiny and making their name out of Ranchi since 2009, it was in 2016 that Iris 13 was created as a new entity, comprising guitarists Asim Anugrah Ekka and James Barla, bassist Nikhil Minz, drummer Nipun Minz and vocalist Vineet Roy. With Ekka, Barla and Roy in the current lineup, they’ve smashed through the gates with their modern metal track “Blackout,” amping up on chaotic rhythms and snarling vocals.

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“2020 Reality” by Skopos x Blxze

While its title plays on the idealistic vision that was created for India by governments past, rapper Blxse aka Manmeet teams up with producer Skopos to clearly take aim at all the festering problems he feels is plaguing in the country on “2020 Reality,” released via Paradigm Records. In his quick-fire delivery, Blxse shoots off about politics and moral corruption in the media, but also about how rappers and poets can lead a new movement of social consciousness.

Parlok by Dronark and Shashank

Mumbai-based producer Dronark started out in EDM but he’s now found his space in bringing airy, cinematic sounds and beats to hip-hop artists. Teaming up with Lucknow rapper Shashank, the duo released their new EP Parlok that hones in on an unsparing, topsy-turvy Hindi hip-hop realm that remains verbose and sharp across five tracks.  

“Ever Young” by Durwin D’Souza

Part of Kerala rock/metal band Blank Planet as well as fusion act Madras Mail, Chennai-based guitarist Durwin D’Souza has been taking strides with his solo material in 2020. Following his debut single “Sweet Home,” his new track “Ever Young” deftly pairs Carnatic rhythmic and melodic flourishes (heard subtly in beats, vocals and his flittering guitar playing) with modern instrumental rock in the vein of Plini, Intervals and Polyphia.

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Auburn Garden by Screetus

Bengaluru prog rock band Screetus arrive with an impressive first offering on their four-track EP Auburn Garden. Focused on perspectives around abuse (and drawing from literary works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the tale of Greek tragic figure Prometheus), singer-songwriter Abhishek Sikdar, guitarist-producer Vamsi Krishna and drummer Vijay Rawat dive into dark electronica, prog and psychedelic rock.

“Ka Hok Ka Shi Kyntien” by Da Minot

Shillong artist Hammarsing L Kharhmar assembles a new project called Da Minot for an endearing insight into Khasi culture and philosophy, starting with the debut single and music video for “Ka Hok Ka Shi Kyntien.” Set with the backdrop of the sacred hill U Lum Sohpetbneng, Kharhmar teams up with vocalist-lyricist Priyo Laloo as well as his New York band Mon Khmer’s drummer Dave Cole, amongst traditional Khasi instrumentalists for an evocative listen and a documentary-like narrative, directed, shot and edited by filmmaker Sankirang L. Khongwir.

“Sagittarius Szn” by Viepsa

After the dramatic, near-unpredictable energy of her song “Careless Creature,” New Delhi vocalist Viepsa Arora tunes into a totally laidback sound with “Sagittarius Szn.” Featuring producer Arjun Sadana’s easygoing guitar licks and minimal production, Viepsa offers a heavy dose of romance, with the music video filtered through a nostalgic lens to mirror a cutesy love story.

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