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#ReviewRundown: June 2021

This month, we give our verdict on the latest from Bipul Chettri, Siyaahi, Flying Cupid, Mr. Todu, Abhishek S. Mishra and Munkey Junkey

Anurag Tagat Jun 30, 2021
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Bipul Chettri – Samaya EP

★★★★

Released last month in full, following singles, singer-songwriter Bipul Chettri’s latest EP Samaya is everything you expect out of a pandemic project. Written while the Nepali-language artist was locked down like most of the world, there’s a sense of conviction in Chettri’s stories of loneliness and vulnerabilities that solely belongs to him in the indie space. “Katai Uslai” veers into Dylan territory but with much more tenderness, while “Samsara” lends itself to country twang with slide guitar from Pranai Gurung and Chettri’s contemplativeness. He emphatically deems time as invincible on the title track, buoyed by producer Anindo Bose’s subtle key arrangements over fingerstyle guitar work. Directly referencing the pandemic, Chettri offers hope still, in the spirted “Naya Din” and pastoral, flute-aided “Bhaans Ghari.” Despite the circumstances, in Chettri’s outlook, it’s not dark yet.             

Siyaahi – Escape Routes EP

★★★

Ahmedabad hip-hop artist Siyaahi aka Aniket Bhat, fresh off his appearance on talent search show Red Bull Spotlight as a finalist, launches into a confessional yet self-assuring record on his new EP Escape Routes.Over a variety of beat styles offered by his producer Amey Rane aka Brayne Dead, Siyaahi raps in English and Hindi, with varying results. The English chorus led by him on “Introspection” might be a bit of a cliché, but Nicolette Gore’s sublime voice carries it off much better on “Lost” as Siyaahi sticks to quickfire flow. “Baller” takes that wordplay and delivery up a notch and he calls in fellow Ahmedabad rapper Dhanji for a whirlwind bout on the title track. Siyaahi yearns for freedom on Escape Routes and we’re here to see how it plays out.

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Flying CupidAll Turns to Dust

★★★½

For his debut album All Turns to Dust, Guwahati and New Delhi-bred, Boston-based guitarist-composer Abhiruk Patowary arguably rounded up a wish list for any modern metal musician – Veil of Maya’s Lukas Magyar roars over songs like “Oasis” and “Into the Light,” while prog band Intervals’ drummer Nathan Bulla nails all the djent dexterity alongside Delhi bassist Abhishek Pillai. There’s a handful of other guests including Australian modern prog artist I Built The Sky aka Rohan Stevenson, Canadian singer Itayil aka David Chunn and New Delhi singer-producer Aditya Paul, plus Bengaluru vocalists Siddharth Nair and Shiyasz Abdul, among others. It makes for a rock-solid modern metal party which will keep any fan of the genre reasonably engaged through 12 tracks.

ASM – Blue Dawn EP

★★★½

Available for digital purchase on Noodle.

Kathmandu-based rock artist Abhishek S. Mishra digs into his catalog for a selection of moody songs (sonically and lyrically) for the new EP Blue Dawn. There’s ominous, drone-y beginnings on “Tara” featuring producer Diwas Gurung, while the classic Nineties grunge plaintiveness pervades “Hold On,” sung in English. While those two songs have been out in some form or another online, the slinky, lo-fi inflected title track is previously unreleased. “Don’t Break” and “Fine” featuring hip-hop artist KTM Souljah are new tracks, morose and driving in Mishra’s love for the acoustic iteration of the Seattle sound. His track with Nepali electronica producer Lawpacks is a wandering tribute to Radiohead, called “Hadioread.” It’s all kinds of energetic, but sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of Blue Dawn. Then again, diversity is clearly Mishra’s intention on this wide-ranging EP.

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Mr. Todu – Dreamtown EP

★★★½

It’s not every day you’d come across a bassist who’s also a rapper, but that’s Mr. Todu aka Varun Shungloo for you. On his new EP Dreamtown, he takes a swing at infidelity and toxic relationships on the bass and acoustic guitar-led “The Nutcracker.” The Mumbai artist previously known as Lil Todu is sentimental on “Ghost of You?” but Dreamtown goes well beyond hip-hop and rap. It’s an acoustic pop-rock EP which allows Shungloo to make excursions into fusion (“Showmetheway”) and Incubus-esque alt-rock on “Meet My Maker.” The dark and chaotic “Relief!” shows off yet another side, making Dreamtown a curious listening experience.

Munkey Junkey – Bitter Chitta

★★★½

Indian-origin Birkenhead-based artist Munkey Junkey aka Kurran Karbal scales a summit of his psyche and takes just over an hour on his debut full-length Bitter Chitta. Featuring cowrites from guitarist Simon Tong (from The Verve and a regular with Gorillaz), there’s weird and digestible music in turns, but Karbal writes from the heart, that much is evident. There’s neo-psychedelia on “Egress,” “On a Cloud” and Frank Ocean-esque ambient hip-hop on “Bury Her Bones” and his friendliest hook on “Oo Aa Na.” Vocal and synth experiments abound (the tabla-inflected “Dehli Glue Kids,” the drone of the veena phasing in and out on “Someone”) but Karbal is also about keeping it accessible at times, offering upbeat, radio-ready tracks like “Cats and Dawgs,” “Bitter Heart” and “All I Need.”

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