In recent years, the Indian rock and metal scene has been riding on a “progressive” wave with bands and musicians experimenting with modern metal techniques inspired by Western artists like Plini, Intervals, Monuments, and the like. At this juncture, it becomes apparent that the sound has somewhat become hackneyed and over-saturated, as artists eagerly join the “prog” sound bandwagon. Wouldn’t exactly call it a negative thing although the craving for originality and freshness remain constant. Enter, The Tramlines Project. The Bangalore-based post-rock ensemble with roots in Kolkata has tried to defy the boundaries of conventional “prog rock” while also incorporating the best that kind of sound has to offer in their debut album Perception.
The predominantly instrumental mixtape focuses mostly on building ambience, spectacularly blending ambient and heavy elements in its sonic palette. Trying to pigeonhole their sound into a specific genre will do no justice to what they have to offer as you have to listen to it yourself to fully immerse into the experience. Honestly, I had no particular expectations from the record initially but truth be told, I was genuinely impressed with the amount of hardwork invested into their debut album both sound and production-wise. It was simply exhilarating. The attention to detail, the incorporation of Western and Indian classical elements like the violin and tabla in tracks such as “Right & Wrong,” and the flirtation with jazzy eccentricities in “Output” showcase Perception’s dynamism, rebelling against the clichéd soundscapes of progressive rock. Yet, it is undeniably heavy, evident just a couple of songs into the record where headbanging becomes almost involuntary.
“Empty Inside” and “Lucid Dream” craft vibrant and trance-inducing soundscapes, intertwining heavy guitars, booming basslines, and ecstatic drumming, satisfying the cravings of every metal enthusiast. “Frostbite” extends itself by incorporating arpeggiated piano melodies, while the heartfelt guitar solo in “Alive” underscores the band’s innate ability to evoke deep emotional impact. Listening to the record feels like transcending into a different plane of consciousness, that’s how powerful Perception has proven itself to be. The album ends with “Hope”, a dreamy and optimistic conclusion to a whirlwind of a record – obviously, in a positive sense.
Another striking aspect of the album is its utilization of sampled naturalistic elements, ranging from burning fires to rain and storms. It’s as if the band encourages you to connect with your roots and ground yourself in the encompassing environment. This harmonious interplay of natural elements through music is truly something to be cherished. For a debut record, The Tramlines Project has indeed surpassed expectations. If they maintain this energy in their subsequent releases, they have the potential to become a prominent indie act in your playlist.