What happens when Hindustani Classical meets Deep House? Delhi-based musicians Aniket and Aaromal show us with their genre-bending single Mann
At the dawn of the new millennium Bruno Reuter released a new age album, so popular that listeners rushed out to buy new amplifiers and speakers just so they could enjoy his sounds to their fullest. The haunting power behind his compositions can never be forgotten; The flutes, violins, the sitar, the lyrics, the arrangements and the juxtaposition of classical Indian elements to western, including electronic sounds, opened us to a form of music previously unimagined by mass audiences. Originally intended as meditative music, the album quickly transcended the tag and was played continuously at restaurants, lounges, coffee shops, sometimes even heard blasting from vehicles cruising up and down Mumbai’s seaside localities. Bruno Reuter was best known by his Osho-given name Karunesh.
Today, after over two decades, I am introduced to two young musicians from Delhi, Aniket Jain and Aaromal Rajendrababu. Their new single Mann, though starkly different from Karunesh, reminds me of an era gone by; Of Claude Challe and Raymond Vișan’s efforts to popularise world music and bring a wide variety of Eastern elements to Parisian popular culture and urban experiences.
Mann features the vocals of classically trained Carnatic singer Aaromal set to the ambient massiveness of composer and multi-instrumentalist Aniket’s eclectic composition.
“Interestingly, half the percussion sounds you’ll hear in the song are actually me playing on a table-top with my hands. Sometimes I’d even record myself tapping on my phone. They are uniquely organic sounds and I reckon, apt for the Lo-Fi vibe of the song.” Aniket begins ecstatically.
He isn’t wrong here. Whether one listens to Mann on a set of Yamaha speakers or on one’s mobile phone, one can’t help but notice these uniquely prominent taps.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“I was playing something nondescript on the piano once and ended up sending it to Aaromal, one of the main Indian vocalists in our college. He really took to the chilled house vibe and thus our journey began.”
Aaromal chips in, “Aniket and I, through our discussions, discovered we had that in common; Electronic music. In fact, we are bandmates and a part of a fusion endeavour. I’m also into dancing and that’s where I get my love for electronic music. In a nutshell, that’s the story behind our collaboration!”
According to the duo, Mann is about those emotions we’ve all felt being trapped indoors during the lockdown. The words dawned on Aaromal one night, while he was struggling with his own thoughts. This formed the theme of the song.
Though Aaromal and Aniket have collaborated before, it is the first time they have put something out into the world together. There was a certain level of confidence with Mann. For the duo who were involved deeply in the live Indie scene in Delhi, the lockdown has had opposing effects on each of them. While Aniket has gained clarity and actually finds the experience wonderful (He tells me he’s grown so much and his entire process of how he crafts a song has developed), Aaromal is still waiting for a similar dawning.
“My lyrics are an expression of what I was going through in 2020. I’m still in the process of finding that post-lockdown clarity that many others have. Hence, from my standpoint, the song is a direct reference to the innumerable of sleepless nights I’ve had during the lockdown, rife with thoughts and uncertainty.” Aaromal declares.
TRUSTING THE PROCESS
With the soundtrack, Aniket wanted to do something with a seasoned touch.
“I don’t know why I’m so inclined to lo-fi sounds, it maybe because my music isn’t very high energy. Its intention is more to calm the listener than to pump them with energy. For that reason, lo-fi sounds work well for me. If you notice, even those who dance to house music, do so casually.”
As fate had it, the undertaking turned out to be more unfortunate than arduous, with Aniket’s computer crashing two months ago and him having to redo everything from scratch. But he’s more than positive about the ill-fated event than ever.
“It actually turned out to be blessing in disguise, because this time around we could reflect and take time away from our creation. I would say the new version turned out a hundred times better!”
The responses to Mann have been overwhelming with many listeners being able to relate to this song, not only because of the lockdown but at other times in their life too.
“We’ve been getting messages ever since we’ve released the song about how people can relate to the lyrics regardless of whether they’re in a good mood or a bad one, or whether they’re happy or sad.” Aaromal gushes.