• Sun, Sep 25, 2022
Reviews

Bilkul Takes On The Establishment On His Somewhat Gritty New EP

8.0

album Reviews Mar 13, 05:33pm

‘Zabardast’ is a more incisive outing than one would superficially think

Bilkul is a new project from Ashhar Farooqui, who makes music out of Kumaon and has been around in the experimental space in general for a good amount of time now. Under the moniker Toymob, his journeys across genres and influences have built up a strong, well-known body of work that most people familiar with Indian indie have enjoyed. This new project starts with this very EP, ‘Zabardast’, and it does take something of a different direction – that of poetry, primarily. Sure, there’s still great production, but Ashhar has focused mainly on telling stories. They aren’t particularly rosy ones as he spends a lot of time reflecting on the state of our country and its governance (where good news is often hard to come by, unfortunately). What does this result in? In short, four impactful tracks.

The production is still pretty great all-round, which is to be expected. There are some old-school synths and a general exploration of the electronic music space on all the songs here. His vocals are delivered in true spoken-word form; often quiet and understated but always very clear. You can tell he is concentrating on delivering his words, and they are the centrepiece of this sort of conceit. Opener ‘Gyaan’ is something of a lamentation (rant?) about fake news and the complete destruction of objective truth by the internet (and us as its foolish servants, of course, as you sit reading this). ‘Aandolan’ is perhaps the most biting tune on the EP, a song that sounds like raised hackles and about protesting those in power. There’s a dark undercurrent to this that worms its way under your skin. ‘Kabu’ is a more general meditation on maintaining sway over a people, and of course, it’s delivered with a dry-as-dust angle. Capitalism? Enjoy. The release ends with ‘Raees’, which lives up to its name and is perhaps the most groove-able tune on here.

Of course ‘Zabardast’ was always going to be a bit out there given Ashhar’s track record. He does go for a presentation one doesn’t often see, which is very lyrical material over sparse electronic arrangements. It's not for the faint of heart, and it is something of a challenge on first listen. But that is a leap well worth taking.

 

Listen here.

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