• Sat, Sep 26, 2020

The New Visita EP Is A Safe Space


album Reviews Sep 28, 02:39pm

A sense of both comfort and resolution pervades “Chronicles: Consolation”, but that’s by design
 Photo Courtesy: Visita

Hyderabad-based guitarist and composer Vivek Venugopal’s 2018 full length ‘The Ascent Of Mount Purpose’ was all about fingerstyle acoustic guitar and subtle motifs expressed through the simplicity of the instrument. Well, it’s now 2019, and his new release ‘Chronicles: Consolation’ (that dropped in July) features even more experimentation through simplicity (which is largely his m.o.) On this release, he explores his creativity through the piano and tries to do a lot without taking too many risks, partly to his detriment.


‘Consolation’ is one part of a concept release that is made up of two EPs, the second of which is releasing soon (as if just having abstract, conceptual music with no lyrics or compositional hand-holding isn’t ambitious and crazy enough). Featuring collaborations with Mitali Saraf and Shantanu Patel, the seven-track release is obviously extremely sparse to listen to, which is what one would expect when confronted with twenty three-odd minutes of lonely, solitary piano. What can be said sound-wise, however, is the pianos themselves sound fairly warm and welcoming; there’s no plinky, cold touch to them that sort of suck the air out of a room. The playing is also (again, unsurprisingly) expressive and delicate. There’s enough dynamism and feeling in the performances here that one doesn’t get alienated from the tunes. And there are some pretty compelling tunes on here.

The opening track ‘Reminiscence’ presents a pretty fair picture of the EP itself.  It’s a slow, lilting tune that has a fairly positive mood to it. One thing this EP does not do try too hard to do is create moments of ture tension and release, possibly because of the written, controlled nature of the compositions. There are definitely points where some amount of the former is created, but it seems to be far more because of a jazzy touch or a contrived movement than an emotional turn, and that gives the undulations on ‘Consolation’ a bit of unwanted artifice. The track ‘Past vs. Present’ is a place where the underlying melody and part of the lead is played in an almost robotic, staccato way that does the overall feel of the track no favours. The syncopation in the lower end is pretty awesome in small doses, though. ‘The Maze Of Existence’ has a decidedly tragic and somewhat Balkan touch to it, and to that end it’s easily one of the more fun tracks on here. It has a pretty jagged and unsettling melody, and little pauses further accentuate how left-of-centre it is. The track also progresses to some really feels-y passages, which absolutely lift the track. It is a bit of a letdown that there aren’t more places on the EP where the intensity of the music is given a bit more freedom; the following tracks suffer from this restrained presentation more than anything else. ‘Reductio ad Absurdum’ is sort of the token dissonant prog song on the EP, but it ends not going far enough outside any box to achieve that. It stays in this place that is more of a minor inconvenience than something that makes you squirm. ‘Moments Of Profundity’ is easily the most accessible track here, and that is its virtue; it is played excellently and has a logical, meaningful sequences of passages. There’s also a little bit of jazzy rhythmic gymnastics going on, and that gives the track some much-needed spice.



‘Unresolved Matters Of Heart’ is an unexpected dose of positivity; any wistfulness and unresolved-ness is taken over by the killer chords and general pop structuring of the song. The closer of the EP ‘New Beginnings’ is a bit of a middle-of-the-road affair and sort of ties a bow around all the ideas presented over the previous tracks.
It’s obviously important to remember that, however abstract, there is a concept and journey presented in ‘Chronicles: Consolation’. There are ups and downs everywhere, and there are more than enough locations where a certain amount of feeling is generated. It turns out to be a little too comfortable to have real peaks and valleys, but one can’t help but wonder if it is by design. Maybe Vivek doesn’t want you to overdo it with the feels and just calmly engage with his music instead. And maybe that’s a good thing.


Listen to the EP below:



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