REVIEW: ASWEKEEPSEARCHING – “Zia”
Every once in a while, we come across a band or an artist whose music becomes a part of us; a way of life. It helps us get through the day and sleep at night. Not too long ago, I came across this marvelous Ahmedabad-based post-rock outfit named Aswekeepsearching. I could never be thankful enough to a friend for his recommendation to check out this beautiful album titled ‘Khwaab’. I still remember being few minutes into the album and realizing what I was missing all this while.
While I thought it could not get any more epic, to my immense joy earlier this month, the band announced that their second full-length album titled ‘Zia’ was ready and would be released on 28th April, 2017. While that would be too long a wait, here is what I have to say about it.
With ‘Khwaab’, the bar had already been set high, which often leads to dangerous expectations around any band. With that being said, to my absolute delight, I can say that this is an album that takes awesomeness to a whole new level. The album is a 60-minute run of pure aural bliss.
Just a few seconds into the opening track “And Then Came Spring”, the signature atmosphere has been set with layers of synth backed by that awe-inspiring guitar tone. This beautiful ambience is complimented tremendously by the dream-like vocals of frontman Uddipan Sarmah. The track incorporates quite a bit of progressive influences; especially the moment the song blasts off to the guitar distortions, which would come as a beautiful surprise to the ones listening to their music for the first time. It is apparent that the band has continued with the minimal vocal approach similar to that in ‘Khwaab’ (there are a bit more vocals in this album though). The next track “Sleep/Awake” is a dreamy progressive instrumental piece with a perfectly quantified use of tabla. Get ready to fall in love with this piece of music.
Traversing further into the album, the level of surrealism keeps increasing as every moment passes by. I would be shocked to see this album not getting the appreciation it deserves. The band is surely going places with this one and the listener is going to fall short of words while trying to describe its beauty. The flawless dream-inspiring journey continues with songs like “Uns” and “There You Are”. “Reminiscence” is the track in which the vocals shine brightest, with a prog-inspired, distorted mid-section that is going to make your soul escape your body and fly.
Midway into the album, and absolutely no shortcomings have been found. The music shines bright in every aspect, be it the surreal vocals and rhythm delivered by Uddipan, the atmospheres conjured by the Shubham Gurung’s synth/guitar and the dense basslines by Bob Alex, not to forget the amazing job done by drummer Gautam Deb. The next track “Kalga” is a burst of emotions, depressive to some extent, thanks to the use of well-blended violin tones. Falling short of words myself, all I can say is that the beauty continues with tracks like “Hope Unfolds” and “Lights & Colors”. “Sometimes Somewhere” is another example of the album’s progressive post-rock brilliance in its instrumental.
“Ascend” is the final chapter to this dream called ‘Zia’. It’s an ambient synth-driven track which feels like floating through the exosphere while you fade away looking at distant constellations light years away.
‘Marvelous’, ‘stupendous’, ‘stunning’ and ‘mind-blowing’ are few terms I could use to describe this album and still fall short to express this phenomenon of listening to it. As the name ‘Zia’ suggests, it is the light that guides us through the darkness in our minds and liberates us.