#ReviewRundown: September 2021
Our verdict on the latest releases from Slyck Twoshadez, Yawar Abdal, Compass Box Music and more
Various Artists – Compass Box Music: Unboxed, Vol. 3
The merry folk of Ahmedabad’s Compass Box Music – a studio and label – have attracted indie artists new, notable and seasoned alike to their city for sessions. Producer-bassist Raag Sethi, guitarist Chirag Todi, violinist-vocalist and producer Protyay Chakraborty, vocalist Meera Desai, drummers Shivang Kapadia and Jyotirmay Menon are among several musicians sculpting a jazz-informed, genre-fluid sound for Sanjeeta Bhattacharya’s Spanish (and Bulgarian) exquisiteness on “Pensarte.” The seemingly in-house band Time Wise have a wordless prog ingress (“No one Fits”) and Aariz Saiyed’s folksy love story (“Baarish”). Bengaluru singer-songwriter Abhi Tambe’s melancholic, anecdotal philosophizing is poignant with Desai’s vocalizing and Chakraborty’s violin on “We Shall Arrive.” With this compilation, Compass Box Music’s imprint is evident even if it is subtle and simple, like on “Karvan” by Vaibhav Naik and Munaf Luhar’s “Sarfira.”
Yawar Abdal – Aabad
Srinagar-bred Yawar Abdal cut his teeth in the Pune music scene a few years ago – even finding a worthy ally in Mohammed Muneem from Alif – and his journey from singer-songwriter to grandiose rock auteur comes through emphatically on his debut album Aabad. Working with producers like Bhushan Chitnis, Anurag Sawangikar and Swatantra Sarode, there are eight tracks of Kashmiri rock across moods. Whether it’s playful (“Kalakar”), resilient (“Jaan Baaki Hai”), pained (“Aabad”) or soul-searching (“Mein Kaun Hoon”). Abdal ramps up incendiary rock for the accusatory state of things on “Siyasat,” the riffs ringing loud and clear, while “Visaal E Yaar” swells and drops, with rabab by Sufiyan Malik. Aabad strikes home Abdal’s penchant for telling Kashmir’s stories through arena-ready rock and we certainly hope we see more of him at a nearby festival stage.
Eternal Rust – I Died Here EP
One-man doom metal band Eternal Rust – originating in India and now in Canada – transports us to the frigid, lonesome nights somewhere in the northern hemisphere on his new EP I Died Here. Aided by the able production mind of Vishal J. Singh, the EP gathers 26 minutes of churning, forlorn funeral doom. The opening title track is eerie and intense, while “A Walk By Our Graves” brings a lot more of the artist’s growled declarations about desolation to the front. “Where Iron Rusts” trudges on with its roomy drum work and fuzzy riffs, even offering a stomping, psychedelic beatdown. All in all, I Died Here will delight doom fans, because it’s slow and low.
Slyck Twoshadez – Umreeki
Indo-American hip-hop artist Slyck Twoshadez aka Prashant Verma has been repping Hindi and English rap since 2006, so it’s fair to say he’s wandered far ahead of several of his ilk. Launching his own label Kalakaari and continually pushing hip-hop in India, Slyck stays forever hungry even when he steps in front of the mic. His latest album Umreeki is about his dual identity and how hip-hop has shaped him – from being an entrepreneur (“CEO,” “Money”) to finding friends (“Street Hop” with MCs Rocky Gorkhali and Nasty Ninja). There’s a straight banger with “Saanp aur Ghaas” featuring NoNation, while swerving beats populate “Sukoon.” There’s some familiarity that sets in on songs like “Clout,” but Slyck shakes it off as he gets into pop/hip-hop loverboy mode on “Hold Your Hand” and rages at lethal speed on “Sikhe Hum Se.” Even 15 years in the game, Slyck remains determined to stay up to date when it comes to making wavy, trap-informed hip-hop on Umreeki and there’s clearly no learning curve he can’t conquer.
StereoSiddharth – Slow Jam EP
Mumbai multi-instrumentalist producer Siddharth Sharma aka StereoSiddharth has been dabbling in IDM, pop, funk and more with his releases but his new EP Slow Jam aptly sees him explore the guitar-informed lo-fi hip-hop space. It’s reverb-heavy, groovy, easy listening music and it’s pretty much the kind of sonic palette you can’t set up for disappointment, most times. “Late Night Beat” eases the listener in to StereoSiddharth’s world while “Raindrops On The Window” glistens in its guitar work and a recurring, swirling synth motif. “Distant Memory” sets up more delight with heavy-footed synth and offers an expansive sound. The closing track “Warped” is punctuated by swathes of distortion and a horn section, Sharma juxtaposing it with established chill sounds. It can pique anyone’s curiosity, even though it’s short. Slow Jam may indulge in some chill-hop cliches, but Sharma does let the experimental side shine as well, making it a record worthy of a few repeats.