#ReviewRundown: February 2021
Our verdict on the latest releases by producers such as ADiT, Asymetrik, hip-hop artist Zillionglare, multi-instrumentalist Shreyas Iyengar and singer-rapper Shane
ADiT – Aurora
While club parties and festivals might just be picking back up again, the sound that you associated with EDM festivals will likely never go out of favor. Coimbatore-based producer Pranav Aditya aka ADiT definitely knows this. His latest album Aurora picks up typical elements of dance music but also enrichens it with roomy trance offerings like “Orion.” The friendliest, memorable EDM elements populate songs like “Capella,” but there’s also breathy, arena-ready synths leading on “Alpha.” There’s more topsy-turvy, hectic drops for “Titan” and “Hunter,” in which ADiT teases just about long enough that it’s not irritable. Structurally, Aurora is still play-it-safe and not nearly in the realm of offering anything new in EDM, but it still makes ADiT one more young producer raring to make the crowds jump.
Shane – Love EP
Shillong crooner Shane probably (and hopefully) leveled up the most on Valentine’s Day, when he released his debut EP Love. His sensuous R&B, hip-hop and pop potion is every bit the mood-setter it wants to be. “Make you sing in harmonies,” he belts out as he recalls a hot and heavy night on “All I Need.” “ILY,” produced by American beatsmiths Hugh Stephner and Colin Searcy, introduces Shane in total loverboy mode (“Late Night”) and he never relents in bearing his heart. Working with Shillong produces such as Mebanteinam Kharkongor, Romanus and Bryan Lyngdoh, Dipon Das aka SainS Beat, you can tell Love is a finessed, tender (“Something About You”) offering of everything Shane holds close.
Various Artists – AsymetriK 004
Electronic music frontrunner Arjun Vagale’s fourth compilation under the moniker AsymetriK rounds up roving sounds from the underground from India, Italy, Israel and France. Harshness is the glue that binds producers such as SLV (Germany-based but from Italy), Benki (Venezuela-bred and Israel-based), KMYLE (from Toulouse, France), Sawhorse (Aditya Nandwana, known for his formidable work for Animal Factory Amplification), XEL (Goa-based modular synth artist) and Vagale on this compilation. SLV offers a searing, groovy sound on “Cyberpunk,” while Benki deftly matches noisy saw-like synth leads and distorted bass stabs on “Replacement.” AsymetiK’s surreal, alien-like techno roots wage war against overpowering basslines on “De-Kompress” and “KMYLE” something more in the realm of journeying electronic with “25th Hour.” The mashed up, gnarling chaos of XEL’s “Proxymeter” is a total mood changer and Sawhorse closes things off noisy, dominating “Munchhausen by Proxy” set against lighter percussive pads, making this compilation unsettling yet memorable, like a phantasm night at the club.
Shreyas Iyengar – Tough Times
From his vantage, Pune-based multi-instrumentalist Shreyas Iyengar frames the coronavirus pandemic in a way that we all can understand, on his instrumental debut album Tough Times. Helming saxophone, electric guitar, piano and drums, Iyengar weaves together a striking modern jazz journey through eight tracks. With a weighted drum beat, he kicks off on “Homage,” digging into more guitar-sax combos (“Quarrel Times”) and dipping listeners into the starkly morose “Death March,” aided by vocals by Pallavi Seth and classical guitar work from Jayant Sankrityayana. Cleverness abounds in Iyengar’s sonic storytelling, in the understated Eastern strings on “Trouble in the Orient,” the electronic-flute combo of “Never Leaving Home Again” as well as Sankrityayana’s unshakeable work on the upright bass. The deceptively titled “Drum Solo” brings up wavy sensations and the two-part title track is jazz showmanship at its finest, making Tough Times a revelation for any jazz fan.
Zillionglare – Lyrically Sixth
Taking a page from the book of hip-hop titans such as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, Bengaluru-based rapper-producer Zillionglare aka Sarath Venu traverses multiple styles deftly on his debut album Lyrically Sixth. It’s a rap party straight out the door with “Dark Gift” featuring rappers such as Manuka, Clement Phantom and Atan, but Zillionglare holds his own on “Narayanapuram,” a twisted love-hate ode to India. There’s total trap on “Breathing” with Dopeboyghost and party-starting Indian roots acknowledged on “Trouble” (borrowing a hook from Kannada poet-saint Purandara Dasa, sung by Prashant Nayak) and “CPR.” Zillionglare makes his way through the haze just fine on “What Do You Mean” and the slinky “Wilted Flower,” providing doses of reality as well as escape on Lyrically Sixth.