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Reviews

Big City Harmonics - Foreward

6.5

album Reviews Nov 13, 02:45pm

A review of Foreward by Big City Harmonics.

 

These electronica guys drop albums, right? Like, other musicians release records, the EDM fellows drop them. That sounds about right. In any case, Big City Harmonics (aka Rohan Hastak), a  one-piece from Pune, has also just dropped his debut EP, called Foreward. The music exists in that fragile space between partyhard high-BPM and high-energy dance music that actually makes people dance, and the kind of electronic music you listen to in the safe confines of your bedroom late at night on headphones for some oscillating peace and unease. This is all, of course, taking into account this writer's fairly limited understanding of electronic music and electronic music culture. So naturally, the first real influence on Foreward that's clearly audible is Amon Tobin, especially in terms of the subtle bounce and sway of the easy, mid-tempo grooves that follow the length of the record as also the melodic and tonal interplay between the different samples and patches and synths and sounds. It's a very smart sound in a completely positive way - a sound that doesn't especially rely on gimmicks or production/sampling foibles to catch an average listener's attention. Instead, a stubborn emphasis on alternately marauding and trudging groove - set to deep bass lines and interacting with quivering melodic sounds - and smart songwriting and arrangement is what gives the record a sense of character. Foreward is mostly easy listening in a distinctly uneasy manner, a trend most noticeable when the little repetitive vocal melody appears on 'Windmill'. The distant, atmospheric vocals that are sporadically placed across the five songs often lend the music a kind of wistful, spacey air, same as with the use of unorthodox instruments - horns, tablas, sarangi/shehnai (possibly) - although the instrumental opener 'Within You' is possibly the standout track. 

Additionally, the non-flashy, slightly hazy nature of the production is another facet of Foreward that's been intelligently done - it seems easy to get carried away and paintbrush over unwanted fuzz, but the production here seems intent on allowing the rough edges to shine, further adding to the very outlying feel of the music. The one thing that doesn't quite fly here is the slight lack of versatility. Yes, there're multiple elements networking internally within the songs, but as far as the bigger picture is concerned, everything is just very hoo-ha mellow, laid-back, mid-tempo. Now that is supposed to be the vibe of the music, so it does work in that context, and I'm not calling the flow of the album monotonous by any stretch, but a certain sense of predictability does creep in from time to time - you sort of know what's going to come next - and the songs tend to get old far quicker than they should which, I guess, is probably a result of the accessibility of the music. But that's basically a very minor quibble in a pretty promising first record, and the multi-dimensional aesthetic employed on it is what allows it to sort of step out of the mold a little and have its own identity.

Stream Foreward by Big City Harmonics below:

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