(This piece originally appeared on The Bangin Beats in June 2019)
Upon first listen, Peter Cat Recording Co.‘s brand new album, ‘Bismillah‘ feels tremendously free-flowing and almost liberating. But its underlying sounds might have some other radical ideas in store for the listener. If you’ve ever been to a Peter Cat Recording Co. show, then you’d know the air of mystery that slowly wraps itself around the room. And before you even know it, you find yourself at the center of their wonderful excursion which taps into something special with their experiential sounds to take care of it all. To put things into perspective, ‘Bismillah‘ might just be that once in a lifetime experience that was missing from our lives. For those who don’t know, Peter Cat Recording Co. is a New Delhi-based band consisting of Suryakant Sawhney, Karan Singh, Dhruv Bhola, Rohit Gupta, and Kartik Pillai, who have become an integral part of the country’s independent music ecosystem over the past decade with their sonic crusades that continue to traverse different decades from the 20th century while keeping a foot on the door in the present and deliver a refreshing mix of music which derives from gypsy jazz, soul, swing, post-punk, electronic and possibly even, Bollywood.
Clocking in at 50 minutes, PCRC’s latest body of work is a 10-track effort that steadily ascends itself towards a higher plane with each song. With ‘Memory Box‘ carefully placed as the centerpiece of this remarkable LP, the proceedings get underway with the album’s second single, ‘Where The Money Flows‘ followed by the first, ‘Floated By‘ which feels relaxing, yet elegant in its own subtle fashion. Highlighted by Suryakant Sawhney’s light and dreamy vocals, the extremely enjoyable piece of work finds each member at the height of their powers, which underlines itself by a reassuring sense of peace that brings them together. On ‘Soulless Friends‘, they represent a fun and more approachable space which comes attached with the entirety of ‘Bismillah‘, inviting a whole new bunch of potential listeners of their work. As we step into ‘Vishnu < 3‘, a solitary walk turns into an elegiac celebration of the idea of love.
Their sonic fullness takes center stage with ‘Memory Box‘ as the eight-minute and four-second long journey scripts a tale that is represented by its unmissable groove which treads into the oasis within PCRC’s sonic wilderness before its stellar rhythm section makes everything fall into place alongside the brilliance of their frontman. ‘Freezing‘ waltzes its way to the other side as the whimsical musical charisma of the five-piece outfit shines through on ‘Heera‘. ‘I’m This‘ turns over the page to orchestrate an eerily, catchy moment on ‘Bismillah‘ as the vulnerable, yet boldly open effort brings about a never before seen moment in their work.
On ‘Remain In Me‘, PCRC dish out a cathartic moment amidst the grandiose instrumentation which drapes the penultimate offering of the LP. And finally on ‘Shit I’m Dreaming‘ where Sawhney knocks himself back to reality as a nostalgic concoction of trumpets and drums guide the way one last time, the fantasy begins to fade for the listener and the present-day kicks itself back into action. PCRC’s signature brand of impressionistic melancholy and the outlook of a relentless cynic might still caress the edges of each piece on this record, but there’s a sense of acceptance and tonal shift which not only sheds a light on the flow of this remarkable journey but also their tremendous evolution and growth. And while only time will tell whether ‘Bismillah‘ eventually turned out to be the precursor to PCRC’s next endeavor, there is a lot to cherish and behold on this unarguably timeless record whose music transcends the notions of old or new.