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2018 In Review: Albums And EPs You Should not Miss Out On- Part 2

Dec 28, 12:53pm

Part 2 about the projects released in 2018 that you need to check out!

Besides the more toned down sounds that people gravitated towards this year, more traditional genres also had their moments in the sun. As much as the amount of diversity in the Indian scene has reduced due to the widespread adoption of certain trends, there was still space for aggressive, loud and technically detailed music in the mix.


..4. Metchul! Prog-metchul!
2018 was nothing if not the year of fusion-prog-multi-lingual-many-instruments metal. It was everywhere. Bands were putting out well thought out, extremely layered compositions with squeaky clean production and enough transitions to make even the most pretentious listener drool. But what actually made it stand out from the herd was the amount of fun the bands seemed to be having. It was refreshing to see talented musicians take a demanding style and genre and not take themselves too seriously. One would hope the listening community is capable of doing the same.

 


Daira – Itni Jurrat?

 

This is easily one of the most interesting releases this year. Throughout its runtime, ‘Itni Jurrat?’ never lets the listener get comfortable; its songs jump genres and sounds like a radio whose knobs are being twisted by a crazy person. There are trumpets, half screams, 1950s vaudeville tricks and a couple of face-melting solos and vocal parts. But the real reason this album is exciting is what happens just under the surface. Below the craziness is a well-written, topical and meaningful album which deals with fundamental and existential questions. The fact that it is partly concealed behind all the fun stuff is a metaphor in itself; have fun, but the longer you stay, the more you will be rewarded.

 


Godless – Swarm

 

The fact that this EP exists in the current landscape is heartwarming; the current zeitgeist is not bleeding-edge death metal that deals in occult themes, but who cares? Hyderabad’s Godless doesn’t at the very least. ‘Swarm’ is extremely short, but that plays to its advantage; the songs are punchy and hard-hitting as hell, and they don’t overstay their welcome. Often, such releases market themselves as an endless headbang fest; ‘Swarm’ gives you more than enough for a good neck workout but also cares about your health.

 

 

Pineapple Express – Uplift

 

Most people have heard of these guys; Pineapple Express climbed ladders faster than a firefighter (watch the videos, it is amazing) this year. This EP provides a picture of what has caught many a crowd’s fancy; tight playing, enough hooks to rein people in, and a compositional style that is playful. Either you let them continuously throw you off guard or stand still and enjoy it anyway; the argument that this EP isn’t accessible or listenable is countered by the fact that so many have accessed and listened to it, and that is to its credit.

 

 

Paradigm Shift – Sammukh

 

 

Remember the whole ‘prog needs to be more inclusive and fun’ argument people have had for a long, long time? This is the album that should be given to people who make fun of the genre for being the musical equivalent of a math textbook. The marriage of Carnatic noodling, catchy as hell Hindi pop motifs and heavy, crushing progressive sounds is perfected to a level where this album can be enjoyed by literally anyone but is still layered and complex enough for the nerds. It also helps that the production is on point and the performances are some of the best on a big-lineup album this year. Must listen.

 


4. Instrumental (but the heavy kind)

Another genre that doesn’t seem to get as much love as it used to (remember post-rock and ambient music? Yeah, we all do), the instrumental corner of the music bookshop has been dusty and seldom visited of late. The precious few releases that rose to the surface possibly rode on the quality of their execution more than any game-changing innovations in genre or sound, but hey, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to them (or that they’re not good).

 


Sutej Singh – The Emerging

 

This album is amazing and by far in the top debut releases of the year. Sutej Singh is a dude from Solan who plays guitar like a phenom and can do a better job writing full-band arrangements than most actual full bands. The compositions on here are lush, theatrical and have an incredible sense of direction; the obvious old-school shredding influences always have a counterpoint so that the album does not become a boring noodle-fest; be it melancholy orchestral and choral sections or quiet, emotive clean sections, this album is a movie. And it has all the ingredients of a high Rotten Tomatoes scorer.

 

 

Submarine In Space – Wavelengths

 

This album is excellent but occupies the opposite end of the epicness spectrum; the Delhi band are immediate and intimate instead of soaring and dramatic. There is no shortage of talent and varied influences on ‘Wavelengths’, but the band goes for subtlety and substance instead of size. The impact of this release is not on first listen but rather on noticing small details and tension that builds up slowly under your nose. Also notable is the jazzy, light production, brilliant instrumentation and the absolutely banging rhythm section (one of the best on record this year).

 


ioish – Reconstructing Dreams

ioish are a Delhi trio that do not have the sound of a trio but a full-size band with an orchestra backing them up. Their songs are the polar opposite of what a trio should be; the most interesting thing about the EP is the fact that all three of its members are often willing to sit back and let the song take centre stage instead of shoving their musical identities in the listener’s face. It allows for more sincere compositions and takes the pressure off the 3-piece format. It’s an interesting approach to take and this release does not suffer for it.

 


5. Outro
2018 was a mixed year in terms of quality, but one thing that made itself obvious is that this year was a time of transition. The scene in the country has expanded enough that certain things are in while others are decidedly not, and while that did make for a lot of derivative cookie-cutter music, it also did make the proponents of those trends work doubly hard to make their music better. Even though a lack of musical diversity and the slowing down of the underground scene has hampered the growth of the scene overall, there are good enough signs for the future in 2018 and tons of genres that are just taking off. Maybe, 30 generic EDM drops and random artist name capitalizations down the line, we will continue to grow as a community.


Onward!

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