(Album art by Mayank Dhasmana)
Post-rock is not as much a genre of music as it is an idea. The classification of the sound is more out of convenience – in a perfect world, Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor wouldn’t be clubbed together, even if many similarities do exist. Genre etymology aside, a big problem that this writer has with “post-rock” bands in the country is that they derive far too much from the surface, without actually exploring the depth or the vision of the sound. The superficial elements are the easiest to imitate, but the defiance and the punk-rock-ish post-structural (no relation to post-structuralism) spirit of the music is bypassed time and again. It’s something A Mutual Question are both guilty of and not. At their worst, these guys sound like a standard hybrid of God is an Astronaut and Explosions in the Sky, two bands that tend to sometimes just skim the surface themselves – not that there’s anything especially wrong with that.
But the band does sidestep those unavoidable tics often enough through strength of songwriting. Eyes Everywhere has been composed and produced by guitar-player and bedroom producer Siddharth Chopra, and while the production does leave a little to be desired every now and then – that whole grand, lush sound that the music suggests doesn’t quite translate at times – the nuanced songwriting is far more impressive, even more so considering this is AMQ’s debut release. The record may be steeped in the aforementioned convenient-accessible-post-rock-for-masses category, but it breaks out frequently enough to explore facets of a sound that the band is trying to create – there are definite attempts to forge an identity, from the experimental Indian classical vocals floating behind the mix on the first couple of songs, to the liberal sprinkling of keys, samples, and electronic drums. The glitchy percussions on ‘Hilltropic’, especially, serve as a surprise and a very welcome transition into the middle section of the album, adding a strong sense of purpose to the flow of Eyes Everywhere.
‘Hilltropic’, along with ‘Awakener’, which trudges forth at a very measured and refined pace with a charming synthesis of the keys and the guitars, are possibly the highlights on the album, serving as clear counterfoils to the more upbeat and busy sounds elsewhere (‘Wheel of Life’, for one). There are weak points too, such as ‘In Natural Order of Things’, a song which is possibly missing an article – the parts themselves are very nicely crafted and pleasant, but there somehow seems to be a certain sense of reliance of formulaic patterns in arrangement, a hitch that rears its head often through the album. But Eyes Everywhere is still a pretty strong debut; it does draw upon heavily from similar sounding bands internationally, but it also retains a certain freshness and novelty, especially in India where such music isn’t as commonplace, with stellar songwriting to boot.
Disclosure: The writer is friends with members of A Mutual Question.
Stream Eyes Everywhere by A Mutual Question below: