Originally published in the Hindu Sunday Magazine on February 3rd
Lifafa – Lifafa I
For the current crop of Indian indie artists, playing the basic guitars, bass and drums is not enough. And since most music goes on to a computer during recording and production, it’s safe to say that every other artist seems to have been bitten by the electronica bug. Suryakant Sawhney, vocalist with Delhi-based rock band Peter Cat Recording Co (PCRC), picked up a synthesiser a while ago, and began writing ambient/glitch-hop tunes. Nine of these tracks find their way on to an album Lifafa I, which Sawhney releases under the name of Lifafa.
A lot of them aren’t anything too special, and there is an element of hazy, lethargic songwriting borrowed from PCRC, but if it was meant as an experiment, it’s definitely thrown up some interesting tunes for both, Sawhney and his listeners. It’s not very difficult, stitching beats and ambient soundscapes together to make a catchy, dream-pop loop. However, when Sawhney’s lovely vocals welcome you on the opening track ‘Los Gatos’, with pleasant clinks chiming in, you realise it’s probably not meant to take a lot of effort to make good music.
There’s a familiar haunting tone to ‘Whistling’, which is a typical glitch-hop composition that features heavy modulation. Another commonplace element, the synthetic pseudo-disco beat, is found on ‘Boa Gombay’, which everyone probably misreads on the first go. Similarly, a few more listens to Lifafa I will certainly change your mind about electronic music, especially when a song as pleasant and surreal as ‘Boa Gombay’ fills your headspace. Before you even find your way out, you’re entrapped in the sinister, acid-house-influenced ‘Agnee’, a perfect sound for a bad-ass action sequence for a Bollywood film from any era, really.
‘Villain’, on the other hand, is just bewildering, and certainly not dark in any way. The idea that electronic music is ‘future music’ is borne exactly due to songs such as these. Goes nowhere, but thankfully ends soon enough. Towards the end, when Sawhney’s even-more-modulated-than-before voice kicks in on ‘Swarm in here’, Lifafa I begins to convey its hypnotic allure. Barring a few tracks, it’s a noteworthy start to Sawhney’s electronic work. Now, let’s hope he gets back to that PCRC album.
Lifafa I is available for a pay-what-you-want download on lifafa.bandcamp.com