New Sounds From Dhaka & Beyond
This year has been particularly active in Dhaka. Not only is there tremendous variety among the work that has been put out, but the promising thing is the direction and approach the cities music producers have taken at large. Here’s a look at some of the releases that have particularly made a mark from Dhaka, other Bangladeshi cities and borders not so far away:
1. Albab Rana X Bedheadz X Samin Al Sabah – ‘Circles’
While I’m generally skeptical about EDM producers and expect a little extra with house producers – this track manages to give out a fresh vibe. Bedheadz, both as solo and duo project, have been producing quality house music for some time. I got to see them perform this track live recently and they looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves on stage; and that energy definitely trickled down to the audience.
2. RUTH – ‘Voodoo Baazar’
This one is a deep, beautiful track with a lush, minimal melody. It’s a special track from yet another new female producer, this time from Chittagong. The repetitiveness of the track works well for its ‘slice of life’ effect.
3. Jotsammano Prani a.k.a. Minimal Animal – ‘Jatra Niruddesh’
This guy produces incredibly well crafted techno imaginations and has serious potential. He goes by a Bengali alias ‘Jotsammano Prani’, or ‘Minimal Animal‘ in English. His techno style of music fuses well with his heavy personal Baul influences, a possible reason why his music sounds so deep and insightful.
4. Xenon Arif aka Half Moon – ‘Midnight Hustle’ (Original Mix)
Hailing from Gazipur, this physician and techno DJ can survive a crowd requesting everything from techno to Bollywood, and knows how to please. He has been producing techno and electronica, focusing his attention now on his psy-techno influenced EP to be released later this year.
5. Solarein – ‘40K’ (Nothing but Apes Remix)
Solarein is amazing. Nothing but Apes (from Japan) is also amazing and together they are mighty brilliant. Their fresh indie electronica sounds are inspiring. The hypnotic groove featuring Vru’s vocals and shoegaze-y sounds is eclectic. Check out more of their work on Soundcloud.
1. ‘Polychrome One’ compiled by Fahad Zaman
Yet another offshoot of the Dhaka Electronica Scene, the Polychrome Kollektiv is a new net label that released their first 11 track compilation, featuring many familiar Dhaka faces. Some of the new acts include I WNDR WHY, Ummid, Futurehood, SAF1 and Mishaal Sinha. You can download the compilation for free here.
2. ‘L9’ by Big Machete
This album is Big Machete‘s first release in 4 years. His debut EP ‘Rumpled Tit Skin’ was an intuitive and imaginative masterpiece, but lacked technical finesse.
Big Machete’s soundscapes are highly recommended for experimental electronica enthusiasts, though some of his productions are borderline noise. The track ‘Tooth Club’ has been featured on my compilation ‘Translations’ and for some reason I believe that this will be the most original work from Dhaka this year. Sports a $7 tag if you want a copy.
3. ‘Null’ by Humayan Islam and Kaaktalio
The Kaaktalio clique consists of Space/Ghost, Madman’s Vault, Humayan Islam and visual artist Dr. Strangelove. The EP is the brainchild of Humayan that has been realized with the support of the rest of the very promising Kaaktalio crew. The overall sounds are minimal and downbeat with insightful warm analog sounds, pads and heavily textures.
My favorite pick from the EP has to be ‘The Glass House’. There is a subtle sense of mystery in it while ‘Capricorn’ is another humbly melancholic treat for the ears.
4. ‘Necessary Fiction’ by After Art
After Art is the solo project of Sajib Azad, a British-Bangladesh artist, currently residing in Dhaka. His music has been influenced a good deal by Asian Underground sounds. This 4-track collection features ethnic Bangla vocals, instrumentals and folk melodies. Two of the tracks feature prominent British Bangladeshi vocalist Sohini Alam. My favorite pick from this offering is the last track ‘Echolalia’, which lets me reminisce the Asian Underground sounds one more time, and simultaneously allows me to enjoy those powerful Bengali vocals. While this seemingly unreleased EP is not really new being almost 4 years old – it’s a great new find in terms of how it sounds and hence featured on this list.
5. ‘TRANSLATIONS’ compiled by Khan Mohammad Faisal
Yes, that’s me. This is my 5th compilation via Akaliko Records and also the first physical release of electronic music in Dhaka – check it out! You can read a review of the compilation here from Tanzia Haq.
written by Khan Mohammad Faisal
image credit: Humayan Islam