Originally published in the Hindu Sunday Magazine on April 14th, 2013
Dualist Inquiry – Doppelganger
Free on dualismrecords.bandcamp.com
In June 2011, Sahej Bakshi, who creates music under the moniker Dualist Inquiry, put out a 4-track EP by the name of Dualism. Two years later, Dualism becomes the name of Bakshi’s own record label, through which he releases his first full-length album, Doppelganger. The laidback, electronica vibe of 2011’s Dualism lingers on this nine-track album.
It’s a fair assumption that Bakshi hasn’t spent two years writing this record. Or maybe he has, but he’s spent a majority of his time breaking out in a big way, across the country to thousands of electronic dance music (EDM) and rock fans. Bakshi stands out for mashing up guitar parts with drum machines and synth pads, apparently inspired by progressive rock. How else would you explain hearing an e-bow (an electronic bow) on tracks such as ‘One More Thing’? He doesn’t make any prog rock influences immediately evident, though, considering the opening track ‘Specter’ is a dance-happy glitch-hop track. Even tracks such as ‘Exile’ and ‘Anathema’ have the signature sub-bass booming, although there’s a lot of guitar ambience deliberately pushed to the back.
Bakshi uses samples every once in a while, like any other DJ, but the entirely- instrumental dance album would mean he didn’t want a vocalist’s touch, unlike on his EP, which featured Monica Dogra of electro pop duo Shaa’ir and Func. He even dares to bring in old patches and effects, almost remixing the whole of Dualism EP in one track, ‘Origin’. Tracks like ‘Isoterra’ and ‘6am’ could really do with vocals, before they sound a bit too repetitive, even for dance music.
Dualist Inquiry tries to prove electronica and progressive rock have a lot in common, but it’s a bit difficult convincing rock fans. The groovy, psychedelic guitars on ‘Blitzkrieg’ might help Bakshi’s case, but it’s mostly electronica and dance fans that are going to enjoy this well-produced, made-for-arenas-and-headphones experience. Doppelganger features a curious mix of guitar-led electronic music, but may just sound repetitive to some. Perhaps Bakshi could have stuck to an EP.
Bottomline: Rock and electronica mash, but it’s more likely to find fans in the latter.