Rowan Serrao & Elvis Lobo — Melted EP

(This piece originally appeared on The Bangin Beats in June 2019)

Goa-based producer and pianist Rowan has been on our radar for quite some time now since his brilliant discovery by Indian collective Jwala via one of their earlier released compilations back in 2017. And come today, we are bringing you the premiere of his highly anticipated debut collaborative EP, ‘ Melted’ with renowned guitarist/composer Elvis Lobo. Comprising of five delectable cuts, their latest effort puts the spotlight on the creative fusion of their distinct styles, influenced by the sounds of electronica, blues, and nu-jazz which almost feels alchemical.

Upon first listen, ‘ Melted’ feels stunningly precise and chill. And with its accessibility proving to be the EP’s biggest ally, Rowan talks to me about the initiation of their lengthy collaboration which began “ while I was working on a beat (‘Chrome’)”. He says, “ I just paused for a second and said to myself ‘a lead guitar on top of this would be perfect’ and the first person that came to my mind was Elvis. So I asked a mutual friend for his contact and sent him the beat via text asking if he could play a lead on top of it. He agreed and we met a few weeks later.

With the onset of its opening cut ‘ Platinum’, Elvis’ guitar works sinuous loops as his solo work structurally intertwines itself with Rowan’s cooling rhythms before the action shifts to ‘ Chrome’. Brought to life by a highly textured string work, the proceedings transcend chill and offer a coherent mix of intensity and groove. Rowan’s debut body of work accompanies an exciting tale as he tells us, “ Initially my idea was just to record ‘Chrome’ and put it out as a single. But after I sent ‘Chrome’ to Elvis and asked him if I could post it.”, which consequently led to the ignition of their creative spark as the fellow veteran act suggested to “ work on more tracks”. “ So I went back on my Mac and searched for beats which lead to ‘Platinum’, ‘Fused’ & ‘Silk’. We did record another two tracks but ultimately said it needs a little more work. “, he says.

There are quite a few leftfield surprises in store for the listeners as the EP goes on to stick by its primary good looks and steadily amplifies the depth of their sonic imagination with ‘ Fused’ and ‘ Silk ‘. Two superlative cuts, both of which go on to inject renewed vitality within the EP which initially felt like a moody record, are driven by its burly sub-bass and intricate layers of rhythms and Rowan’s signature melodies as they create a favourable amount of friction and throw off some of the brightest and most glittering sonic sparks.

Mixed and mastered by Mumbai-based producer Tanmay Rathod (TRODD) who has been a longtime friend of Rowan, ‘ Melted’ makes sure to align the scattered pieces of recorded music by Rowan, who continues to save some time to make beats, apart from keeping his civil engineering day job. At the end of it all, the two collaborators hope to take listeners to a higher plane one last time with the arrival of ‘ Yuri’, which also happens to be Rowan’s favourite tune out of the lot because “ …it was recorded the first time we met in mid-May 2018. And May being my favourite month as there is a transition from summer to monsoons and it’s like this electricity in the air with monsoon winds blowing “, he tells me.

That’s the first time I met Elvis at his apartment and there was his wife’s Kawai piano in there, which I just connected to my Mac and him on the acoustic and we just started jamming with no rehearsal, nothing. And while playing, Elvis’ two-year-old daughter just pops in the room with a smile and me having no idea who she is kept on playing till the end after which I asked him who this girl is and he said that’s my daughter ‘Yuri’. “, he continues as he shares more about the creation of the final track from their debut outing together.