Every once a while, artists come along who convince you that the only thing to be done to be a better artist, is to make art. This is true for the artist duo ‘Else If’, comprising Arjun Gopal and Puneesh Suri. While it is challenging to summarise their collective contribution to Indian Electronic Music, it is fair to say that it is significant. Since the launch of Else If in 2014, they’ve curated scintillating audio visual performances where sounds, melodies and rhythms tell stories.
Despite several live performances in the past, this is Else If’s first EP or as they describe it “Hello World is our genesis – our first breath in the vast soundscape of music. It is the start of our journey with the intention to find our unique space. It is an experiment that is a genre bending amalgamation of textures, sounds, guitar riffs, and rhythms layered over complex time signatures.”
As a student of music, one of more mysterious elements of composition, is time signatures. Over time, global artists have stepped up to the mantle and produced tracks that are used in classrooms to grasp the concept. Few have succeeded, and even fewer have produced music that experiments with it. Else If have produced tracks that experiment with time signatures across the board, which we’ll refrain from listing here, for the sake of minimising spoilers!
Listening to the EP, you might find yourself asking the genre to which Else If ascribes its music. It is a question that is futile to ask given that they describe themselves as a ‘genre-free’ act. Arjun and Puneesh’s grasp on creating powerful minimal soundscapes to shake you out of an unconscious slumber, is evident from the first track ‘Chloe’. Described by the artists as their “version of a mind that’s idle on the outside but dreaming on the inside”, the polarity of the layered elements keeps the track from stagnating. From the introspective ‘Chloe’, we move on to ‘Livermore’ which the artists describe as “a song that deals with the fitful, uneven nature of life and how communication is vital for us to evolve”. Hard hitting guitar riffs set against an intricately laid out drum pattern, push the thought of communication further.
‘Weaklink’ is a song about war and perhaps, the most powerful track of the EP. Influenced by war, Alan Watts and the state of despair that surrounds war, it is a poignant commentary on the violent cycle that humanity has engaged in since the rise of civilization. The last track in the EP, ‘Breathe Again’, is an extension to the previous track. While ‘Weaklink’ looks at the cycle of life and death in the confines of a war, ‘Breathe Again’ extends the purview to every human experience. Taking you through a harmony drawn from samples that will remind you very quickly of a hospital ward, the song ends with an explosive guitar riff – maybe to signify the freedom of death.
‘Hello World EP’ is one that pulls you in immediately with its careful navigation of the duality in human emotions. For those who are familiar with the ‘Shadow Self’ written about by Carl Jung, this EP lends a perfect soundtrack to its unearthing. Produced by integrating sophisticated gear, such as Moog synthesizers, with an in depth knowledge of music, the EP invites the listener to be a part of the tracks, not once letting the gear overshadow the song. In a world dictated by material possessions, Hello World is a breath of fresh air.