EMI, Rs 195
The lazy-hazy loopy start to Sky Rabbit’s eponymous debut album sets the tone for this nifty sonic illusion in which 90s Manchester has been yanked and plonked on to 2012 Mumbai. And the consequences are smiley-emoticon-on-ecstasy happy. The band formerly known as Medusa has cropped its gorgon hair right from their prog metal roots, and now as Sky Rabbit has hit the perfect g-spot with their sound of delightfully stylised boredom.
We’ve come a long way from the crapola of Remo Fernandes’ ‘Pack that smack’. And the good news is so evident in the opening track of this album, ‘Anti-coke Ganpati’. I’m gently nodding my head to the firm-yet-faux-yawning vocals of Rakshit Tewari even as the river of sampled ‘Chemical Brothers’ sound flows in the background. The infectious beat blips on without the lush wall of sound becoming intrusive.
‘Oil’ has that purr, that slick sound that has a velvet feel to it. The charm of this song — as well as the music of Sky Rabbit in general — is that the melody is essentially simple without being empty. The chorus line, sung in its various variations by Rakshit, “What is it/ that you cannot believe/ what is it/ that tells me/ you’re a been”, has an incantatory power that makes me stare into the speaker.
The plucky ‘March’ has a groove embedded in it. So what if Rakshit feels like doing a Jim Morrison-ish voice strut with the staccato playing kissing cousin to ‘Hello, I love you’. The skies clear in this third vodka-and-watching ditty marked by a monastic voice when I hear soft glimmer guitar from Rahul Nadkarni break out.
‘Sweet smile diving’ is the soundtrack of a deja vu, with a circular scratch holding the wispy song together. There’s something deeply elegiac about this track even as I check the liner notes to find that what I thought was “Dorothy, get your pants up/ It’s time to clean it” is actually “Dirty, get your pants up...” The melody, accompanied by the hint of an echo, gets us to a dreamy place where life and adolescence take/used to take a break. The best thing about this song is it keeps slipping away from your ears as if it’s more keen on being friends with your hippocampus inside your head. You can’t nod to ‘Swimmer’, but once again, this is an eel-like melody matched with great subtle guitars at the right times, that seeps in.
‘I become I’ changes gear and tempo. Rakshit, sounding quite Ian Brown-ish, makes for high ends here. There’s a hint of the mystic as he sings, “West will be west/ east will be west/ setting sun will rise/ rising sun will set/ round and round we’ll go/ and I/ I become I”. But what I figure out from this whoop-Buddhist philosappy track is that Sky Rabbit’s music is one frenetic, cardiac-juddering loop. Think sub-tropical Arctic Monkeys.
We’re on the magic merry-go-round in ‘Try’, a psychedelia-daubed cantata. As in ‘Sweet smiling diva’ before, there’s something of a child’s sulk in the song, made upper stiff lip by the soft music of the whirligig. In ‘Clone’, the band veers towards a ballad, then gets fatalistic a la Eddie Vedder. The lines “What a world/ what a world/ what a work/ what a work/ what a world/ it’s time to make a clone” help to bring about a fatalistic ballad that Jesus and Mary Chain would have been proud of. The burps, bops and shimmers of the electrolytic ‘Hilltop’, accompanied to those great back and broken beats from drummer Harsh Karangale, is my cherry on this cake. It has a leather smell and is rather majestic.
Sky Rabbit has all my pet seagulls flocking to it. It’s a deceptively quiet album that sounds like nothing I’ve heard for a long time. But I have a notoriously bad memory that may have been made good by this Madchester-Mumbai redux music.