Translations: An Ocean Of New Sounds
Akaliko Records’ latest release ‘Translations’ is a journey for me. The playlist is a smorgasbord of sounds that tell stories that range from forays into space, dives into infinite depths and contemplations of the inner self. Composed of artists new and seasoned, ‘Translations’ is not flavored with the usual electronica fusion elements.
‘Translations’ is comprised of electronica artists who have been on the scene in Bangladesh for years along with a handful of artists from across the border. It is interesting to see how the Dhaka’s sounds have evolved. While Akaliko’s previous compilations set the stage for DES, ‘Translations’ comes with the message that electronica in Dhaka has just turned bold and wildly experimental. The album is the first tangible production of the record label. It is also Akaliko’s first physical release. Compiled by Khan Mohammad Faisal, it is an abstract array of sounds with each track distinct from the rest and masterfully composed.
The album begins with ‘The Voyage’ by Nadwee, a perfect foundation on which the rest of the album is built. Nadwee unfolds like a welcoming door ushering you to move forward, thus the perfect track to musically embody the start of a journey. The next track ‘It was too late’ begins with a harsh, grating white noise, not unlike that of radio. ‘Tomisro’ by Sinin is all about the imagination and alien transmissions. The track takes you into your own mind while keeping you aware of an extraterrestrial presence.
Solarein’s reinterpretation of ‘Building Nothing, Laying Bricks’ by Evolv is a sudden reprieve from the harder sounds of its predecessors. Pleasantly composed, with easier loops of sound for those who prefer a mellow tinge to their electronica – you could say it is a refreshing change of pace in the playlist.
Big Machete’s ‘Tooth Club’ has all the signature trimmings of the producer’s previous work. The metallic clinks escalate to a plethora of sounds that show the process of a maker in his workshop. Still maintaining the theme of journeys, but with the Machete’s usual poetic twist. Preceding Tooth Club is Rudoh’s ‘Feel Solo’. The track is a procession of sounds that unfold much like a deep contemplative wandering.
Meturi’s ‘A Mist of Grey Light’ is all drums from the get go but slowly begins to loop in on itself with sometimes clear and sometimes muffled sounds. The drop comes in at around 1.35, from where a second set of tribal offbeat drums subtly chimes in. The initial loop starts up again, but this time accented with the mingling second loop present but not in agreement with the first. When the first drum loop dies down at 2.56, the second loop comes to the forefront and expands in its range of beats, almost delightfully parasitic in how it displaces the first loop and concludes the track.
The abrupt transition to the next track, ‘After the War’, is a little unsettling and takes time to recover from. One term to describe this track would possibly be Orwellian, as it sounds like an 80s homage to futuristic sounds. Dreamcoat Messiah’s ‘Fire’, creates quite the hypnotic effect with its sweeping synths and steady beats.
Tin Whiskers’ ‘Vulnerable’ is a refreshing sound in the playlist. Using vocal loops and mellow beats, the track breathes a story of isolation from a feminine perspective. ‘Donau Roschen Part 2’ is the only track in the compilation that has an upbeat, almost dance music like rhythm that is a bit out of sync with the rest of the album.
The B Regiment brings it home with the enigmatic ‘Kopotakkho Nod’, a collaboration with DeepSteel, completing the journey metaphor. Splicing vocal tracks into beats seamlessly, the track evokes the feeling of awareness that accompanies the end of a journey. Anyone familiar with The B Regiment’s work can note familiar elements within the track, but ‘Kopotakkho Nod’ is unique in its maturity and depth from the other tracks.
‘Translations’ is an album open to interpretation. The biggest strength of Akaliko’s artists is the regional essence they bring to the table. The sounds are unique and yet familiar and Faisal should be praised for his ability to curate music in an arrangement that tells a thematic story. Despite the tracks being very different from one another, one minute you’re hypnotized the next you’re dancing to the beat, the feeling of being on a journey remains like a cosmic thread beading all the tracks together, at least for me it was.
Akaliko’s sounds are always unique and might not blend to everyone’s tastes, but they can be counted on to not stay within the lines and create the unpredictable. In that category, ‘Translations’ is no different. You can download all the tracks from SoundCloud and you can order the physical copies very soon.
written by: Tanzia Amreen Haq