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Rounak Maiti Dreams Up His Own Universe on Atmospheric New Album

‘Waiting on the Comedown’ is a bittersweet exploration into the emotions attached to communication in the 21st century

Anurag Tagat Jun 07, 2019

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Rounak Maiti. Photo: Alicia Afshar/Courtesy of Pagal Haina

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For singer-songwriter Rounak Maiti, who’s lived in Mumbai and Los Angeles, some American experiences can be stronger than it is for others. “Even if I’m talking about something like snow [in my music], for example, that’s a very intense concept for me from my childhood. I grew up in India not experiencing it at all and then I came back to it when I was older,” he says over the phone from L.A.

Maiti – who released his debut album Bengali Cowboy in 2017 – is talking about writing his follow-up record Waiting on the Comedown (releasing via New Delhi’s Pagal Haina records on June 7th) and how a lot of the lyrics are left intentionally abstract. “Someone who’s never lived that life [experiencing snow] may get something out of that and that’s something I want. I don’t want anyone to come into it with a preconceived idea of what it should be about,” he says.

To enhance that wandering search for meaning, Maiti’s songs on the nine-track Waiting on the Comedown are given the heavy reverb treatment, slow guitars and ambient patterns easing listeners in on the opening track “From One Eye to Another,” building up to an ethereal, echoey hook. Even on the two singles he had released in April (“Another Room, Another Wonder”) and May (“The Whole World is Watching”), the sonic intent moves away from the laidback country leanings on Bengali Cowboy and enters the realm of shoegaze, dream-pop and ambient music. Maiti says, “With this, I was listening to a lot of ambient music, a lot of slower more shoegaze-inspired music and dreampop. I was into the idea of making music that was very big-sounding – like with reverb and everything – but this time creating dense textures rather than guitar lines.” Songs like “Exit Sign” and “Turn Inside” bring forward more familiar indie rock, recalling bands like Slowdive.

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He says the songs took a while to finish but then at the same time, he was never slowing down. “A lot of the times, songs would be done in a day. I was just trying to articulate what I was feeling in the moment. I think there’s a spontaneity that’s been captured,” Maiti adds. Lyrically, Maiti admits he doesn’t allude to a lot of “concrete, physical things,” but there’s a glimpse of a specific experience on “The Whole World is Watching,” when Maiti sadly sings, “GPS talking/Consumed by suburban stillness/The feeling is frightening/So far out of reach.”

When the album details were first revealed, Maiti said in a statement that he was delving into communication and when overwhelming feelings attached to it dissipate into relief. “I think at the core of it, the album is about communication and relationships and people around you, where you’re living – how these things are in a constant state of flux,” he says. Waiting on the Comedown does justice to the feelings, sometimes unhurried (“Fool”) and other times, surging (“Alien Planet”) but never sparse. Maiti says, “I still wanted to write songs with the verse-chorus structure and I was just interested in how I can create a dense atmosphere for each song.”

The singer-songwriter is taking the sound live soon, but first in L.A. where he’s putting a band together. The plan is to come back to India in the winter for a short tour. “It’s all tentative right now – it’s a weird bi-coastal thing for me. I basically live here (L.A.), but I go to see family and stuff (in Mumbai). But that’s kind of the rough plan for now.”

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