#ReviewRundown: August 2020
This month, we round up the latest from singer-songwriter Nikhil D’Souza, ace producer Sez on the Beat, Indo-Canadian artist Horsepowar and more
Nikhil D’Souza – WaQt EP
After a few twists and turns that included establishing an international fanbase, being part of the hugely successful major label-backed single (“Vaaste”) and a dual language release (“People”), Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Nikhil D’Souza is out with four Hindi tracks put together in an EP called WaQt. Featuring lyrics by Pinky Poonawala, D’Souza positions himself steadfastly as the quintessential Indian crooner. There’s warmth in “Thode Se Kam,” a saccharine hook on “Teri Tarah,” while the dreamy vibes (courtesy of producer and drummer Aditya Ashok aka OX7GEN) on “Gaye Zamaane” makes arena-ready. But D’Souza can clearly be comfortable in still being that one voice with a guitar at the corner of a room, singing simple but heartfelt songs like “Hairaan.”
Moin – Moin
Mumbai-based drummer and producer Moin Farooqui has been part of thrashers Carnage Inc., but his solo project is clearly for dreaming. Sprawling guitar lines and meticulous, apt-for-headphones textures populate his debut self-titled EP, all in a bid to create epic-scale post-rock with elements of prog. The opening track “Meditate” hits just the right spot for anyone looking for journeying instrumental music, while “Seclusion” takes a bit longer to pick up the pace. “Clay Crown” brings the grooves, courtesy of guitarist Swar Joshi and bassist Tushar Sharma and “Nightwalk” goes all out chaotic with guitarists Jay Rathod and Neilson Fernandes. “Ek Nayi Suhah?” explores nimble, lullalby-esque territory to close things off, making this EP a valuable addition for any fan of instrumental rock.
Sez on the Beat – New Kids on the Block, Vol. 1
With his new label and collective The MVMNT, go-to producer Sez on the Beat aka Sajeel Kapoor isn’t just looking at consolidating his place in the runaway Indian hip-hop scene or up his brand game. His new EP New Kids on the Block, Vol. 1 is a statement that Sez is here for the young blood more than fame. Lit Happu jumps in deftly on “Ki Honda,” while braggadocio rapper D₹V is relentless with the autobiographical talk on “Cheesecake.” Bilingual rapper Rawal carries “619” with bruising intent and rapper-producer Vaibhav Jha aka NoNation runs his quickfire verses over chasmic production on “Gas Pe.” When you’re hearing Sez’s signature producer ID kick off each track, there’s little doubt that you’re tuned into a future banger. Even when he’s smoother and guitar-aided (like on “Thara Moves” with rapper Luck), you can’t help but nod your head in approval.
Ravishankar Collective – Atma Bomb
New Delhi fusion act Ravishankar Collective worked on their debut album Atma Bomb for about six years, between 2014 and 2020 and the results certainly show right from the opening track “Aao Sajni” – faultless in its rhythmic energy and melding of flute (Ravinder Rajput), sitar (Dhruv Bedi), tabla (Gurbhej Singh), bass (Anurag Verma), guitars/piano (Somnath Halder) and sublime classical vocals from the frontman. More straight up classical offerings are present (“Chanda Rey,” “Bolo Na”), as are contemplative jams (“Ye Mann, “Megha”) and electric guitar-led songs (“Payaliya,” the happy-go-lucky “Atma Bomb”) and the collective find their home best in pleasing both, classical diehards as well as fans of fusion.
Horsepowar – Lil Miss Canada
It was in 2015 that we came across Vancouver hip-hop artist Horsepowar aka Jasleen Powar with her EP Bollywoes. Five years on, the artist is still has more than enough sass and caustic verses to go around. “Purpose of this whole record was to burn the bridge,” she says on the opening title track to her new EP Lil Miss Canada. Teaming up with Los Angeles producer Zach Schwartz aka LMNOP, songs like “From Russia With Love” and “Perfume” are somewhat comical, while “Fuck Ur Algorithm” takes no prisoners while hyping herself up. Whether it’s relationships (“Have Him”) or her perspectives on life, Horsepowar is badass to the bone when it comes to standing on her own, as she presents on “No Lover.” Lil Miss Canada is part breakup record and part brave optimism.