New Music: From Pune Metal to Chennai Jazz Rock, Bengaluru Synthwave and More
This month, we round up must-hear releases from Shillong rapper Moksh, New Delhi’s rock band Kum Chirui, singer-songwriter Ady Manral and rock band Friends of Linger, among others
Twenty One EP by Moksh
On his recently released debut EP Twenty One, Shillong-based rapper Mrinal Paul aka Moksh teams up with the likes of Aizawl producer Yugi Beats, Stunnah Beatz, fellow Shillong beatmaker AS Prod for a refreshing, up-to-date hip-hop record that addresses growing up in India and dealing with issues like discrimination and ostracization. Moksh goes from a bad guy on tracks like “Aya Moksh” to straight up pissed off on the Bengali track “O’Kay.” Twenty One is supplied with trap and hip-hop production in equal measure, which makes songs like “Views” an all-out banger.
Listen to the EP here.
“Age of Kali” by Avi Misra
Even though singer-songwriter Avi Misra may have moved out to Melbourne a few years ago, his inimitable, booming baritone can easily be heard out here in India. On his new album Usha, Misra takes on fusion and electronica soundscapes to create head-bobbing beats to lay over his hooks with conviction. He howls occasionally about Exxon Mobil and BMW, like on “Age of Kali,” but the instrumentation on the track extends to Rajasthani folk, with kamaycha from Hakim Khan Manganiyar, khartal from Imamddin Kha and the piercing alghoza lead from Taga Ram Bheel. The rest of Usha is just as interesting. Listen to it here.
Chango Tales EP by Jatayu
The worlds of progressive rock, fusion, Carnatic and psychedelic come together in a sublime, heady blend on Chennai-based Jatayu’s debut EP Chango Tales. They lead a mind-expanding jam to kick off the EP with “Shringara,” introduce groovy saxophone and violin on “May I?” and get increasingly menacing and downbeat on the two-part “Pazhi” and emerge with a sense of contentment, on the breezy closing track “Chango,” strengthening their influence of Carnatic guitar licks and uplifting rhythms.
“Silence” by Friends of Linger
Recruiting musicians from Venezuela, New Delhi composer and singer Sharif D Rangnekar, guitarist Adhir Ghosh and vocalist-keyboardist Vidur Singh aim to deliver their evocative best on the politically charged plea that is “Silence.” Heightened by the string section, the ballad and its music video runs through the problems in India’s democracy ”“ political apathy, mob lynching and targeted killings of rationalist figures such as Gauri Lankesh.
Newness by Popcorn Kid
When he’s not bashing out the blast beats for Bengaluru black metal band Antakrit, drummer Nikhil Narayan is now equally known for his synthwave alter-ego Popcorn Kid. The 20-year-old producer takes us on a glimmering journey right to the heart of happy times in the Eighties on his debut album Newness. Over dancefloor-friendly beats, the producer goes all out on his synth, on tracks like “Straight Outta Miami.” Meanwhile tracks like “She’s An Illusion” and “Remember Me” bear a mood of reminiscence.
“Different” by Ady Manral
While his latest EP Lean On Love takes a moody bilingual approach, Mussoorie singer-songwriter Ady Manral bares his heart most convincingly on his live acoustic rendition of “Different,” summing up life perspectives with refreshing clarity. It also helps that New Delhi-based filmmaker and photographer Mohit Kapil captures footage of Manral singing and strumming out to a valley of hills near his hometown, which is a major inspiration that runs through the rest of Lean On Love as well.
Ora-Cult by Kum Chirui
There’s something enchanting and ethereal in the way New Delhi-based alt/folk rock band Kum Chirui present their debut album Ora-Cult. Singing in English and Karbi ”“ which takes its name from the Assamese region of Karbi Anglong ”“ the eight-track album not only bears trippy and inspiring tales (“Harchi,” “Rongharpi Rongbe”) but also reflects a strong style of paying obeisance to nature over smooth flowing prog/psychedelic rock. Songs like “Mang A’mang” and “Plateau Sleepy Hollow” stand out, while they close with the wavy jam “Confabulation.”
Hymnus de Antitheist by Dark Helm
In the works for too many years to count, Pune metallers Dark Helm’s second album Hymnus de Antitheist comes more than seven years after their 2011 debut Persepolis. The good part is it’s their most polished, brutal offering to date. Continuing their Indian and Middle Eastern sonic influences, guitarist and keyboardist Mohanish Deshmukh brings his best straight from the start, like the santoor and tabla-employing “Cilice,” which sets the tone for a prog/deathcore/death metal album. Songs like “Eulogy” and “Embers” are unsparing, bringing just the right amount of dissonance. The more cinematic “Akasha” and tempered “Loss Laments” strike a balance, but “Obey” just proceeds to tear down all walls.