♫♪  Disco Puppet - “Princess This”

Quasi-legal “dance bars”? Clubs full of unfulfilled masculinity? How about approximately 85 rises and drops somehow packed into a five-minute EDM banger? Take your pick and head over to the dancefloor, a highly dystopian landscape in metropolitan India. Yes, their ubiquitous presence in film has made it a nexus for the most able-bodied, slick-haired and heart-stopping luminaries in showbiz. But these bygone imaginations of a kick drum and cheap synthesizer-filled utopia have one goal and one goal only: to make you keep dancing and dancing and dancing, and it’s all going to be okay!

Luckily, for those of us who long for an antithesis, some of the finest left-field electronic acts in the country — those sitting on the dark, gloomy fringes of musicking — are here to make you stop dancing and embrace emptiness. They stare hard into the glossy sheen of our canonical pop music, only to infuse it with frightening dynamic shifts and tactile, strenuous atmospheres. They’re ruthless in their ways. For starters, dig into Disco Puppet’s “Princess This,” the latest, exquisitely unclassifiable release on Bangalore’s beat purveyors, Consolidate.

Sure, there are familiar strains — echoes of James Blake’s glitchy, autotuned melancholia, Fuck Buttons’ electro-orchestral chaos, Cashmere Cat’s skittering hi-hats and elegant synths — but Shoumik Biswas’s iconoclastic project deftly tiptoes between intimacy and alienation in dazzling, unpredictable ways. “Princess This” is a visceral and meticulous sonic assemblage, complete with folkloric refrains (“NOOOOO”), extra-terrestrial synths (“Sea Salt”), and menacing romps of digital hysteria (“HAOAH”).

“Cheese Chase,” a standout track, is four minutes of delicious mayhem, where sirens give way to a detective-movie bassline, underscored by crisp tablas and drums. And only when you think you’ve settled in, blown-out basses, more anxiety-riddled percussion, and delirious, angular melodies dish out one of the most punishing passages of the entire record. Biswas’s voice becomes a shape-shifting element in the mix, often building upon itself with countless layers, obscuring any ostensible meaning. When you do hear him clearly, it’s on songs like “When You Listen,” where the crystal clear repetition of “I’m tired / motherfucking tired” over arpeggiated keyboards is the last thing you’d expect his music to be: catchy as hell.

Over email, Biswas let me in on his compositional process: “These songs, came very naturally to me. There was no specific process. Except that I just went with whatever I was doing. I didn’t think about it too much. I had to make myself stop being conscious.”

He described the experience of listening to Prada Mane’s killer track, “Soar Loser” and feeling an instantaneous, euphoric desire to finish making “Princess This.” Produced by Yung Lean collaborator Bladee, I realized that the absurd, stream-of-consciousness musings of “Soar Loser” and Biswas’s icy soundscapes aren’t really that far off from each other. About his influences, he remarked:

I’ve come to accept my love for pop music. But I listen to a bunch of random things. So, it’s been a mix of a lot of hip hop, grime, pop, noise. I don’t know. I’m very uninformed about genre definitions and distinctions. But yes, noise was a large part of it. It’s the sound of failing to contain a beast. I was in that space. I still am actually. It’s not worn off yet. Maybe it won’t wear off.

Listening to “Princess This,” it’s effect still hasn’t worn off on me either. Maybe I’ll even start dancing to it somewhere down the line.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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