New Delhi’s alt electro rockers SundogProject released their 40-minute record, titled “Hex 1|Visions” recently. The five-member band is ironically composed of hard rock and metal stalwarts Rahul Das on vocals, guitars, synthesizer, electronics, and production; Anupam Roy on bass, production, mixing and mastering; Viraj Mohan on synthesizer, electronics, vocals, and guitar; Shardul Mehta on drums, percussion and electronic drums and Rahul Sainani on guitars, vocals, and percussion. Frontman Das, who is also the founder of the band that started out in 2011, says the band was formed accidentally. “The SundogProject was originally supposed to be a solo project based on the songs I had made, but it culminated into a full blown live band with friends.”
The all-star line-up of the band has some deep credentials that they are backed by, hence the sharing of band duties amongst it’s members. Das played for Incognito and Joint Family. Roy, who’s a much-sought-after record producer having worked with bands like Bhayanak Maut, and played the occasional set with Indian Ocean. Mehta formerly played with nu-metal act Joint Family and currently thrashes the skins as a temp for for Hindi rock outfit Faridkot. Mohan also does vocals and plays guitars for psychedelic prog act Another Vertigo Rush, and Sainani used to be the guitarist for Joint Family. So one would guess that the music is heavily distorted in the sense of musical direction and genre, but Das states the opposite. “All the members are from established bands, but that has little or no effect on the creative process of the music and lyric writing.”
The “Hex 1 | Visions” has been a work in progress for a long while now, with material being worked on from as back as 2009, and Das does admit that a thematic pattern had been developed for the music since its inception. He however, believes that the theme for the music is best understood subjectively. This record had been written entirely by Das, with the exception of Witching Hour, which was interestingly conceived out of an iPod loop made by drummer Mehta.
Das explains, “It would be awesome if the themes and moods are explored by listeners rather than me putting a solid shape to it. I feel, initially, the listener should scrape around and get a feel of the music rather than being told what to think or feel.” Possibly in a few months, when the music has manifested in the audience’s perception a certain way, the band will reveal the original thematic sequence behind the recording which could allow the listener to explore and experience new shades and meanings.
Bassist Roy, though, gives us a listening cue. “I feel that the strong, underlying pop sensibility of the album is what holds it together - at the end of the day, anything goes, but the melodic structures give it a sense of cohesion.” Speaking about the bass play, he continues, “When I first heard what is now “Hex 1/Visions” I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the bass to sound - even though Das already written a lot (if not most) of the bass parts. I changed some stuff around and just distorted the hell out of everything.” Visually speaking, the bass playing on the album, and its role by and large, is “an angry rumble of a blue whale with the bite of a great white shark wading through a crowded sea filled with diverse life forms, dynamically shifting all the time. It’s always an unapologetic, massive sound”
The record, which has six tracks on it, is a journey through the psychedelic aspirations of the protagonist, with a series of highs and lows in the music, created through fast and slow places. Replete with a whole plethora of sound patches and synthesizer effects, the heavily atmospheric music is, as Das earlier stated, a very subjective subgenre in itself. Continuous loops form an integral part of the music, and though they may seem excessive to a first-time listener, the music grows on anyone who listens to a track more than once. The lyrics and vocal style exude emotion, a sense of rebellion and aggression in a very graphic manifestation.
Since the music has so many different elements to it, especially considering it is so heavily based in setting up an atmosphere, Roy concedes, “At the risk of sounding really biased, I think this is some of the most cutting edge music today. Not just from India, but from all across the world. Reproducing this live is a BITCH! I can’t stress this enough.” The band played their debut set in the city only recently, where the band attempted to translate their complex music on stage. Roy admittedly wasn’t too kicked. “Despite insane amounts of preparations, things still went wrong. We wanted to stick with a very live feel, without compromising on the diverse soundscapes that are present throughout the album. At the end of the day, it’s an electronic rock outfit, with experimental sound palettes and complex arrangements, and we wanted to do justice to that idea,” says Roy.
The record producer also has his hands submerged in a number of different projects including production of material by garage rockers Indigo Children much delayed album and metal outfit Bhayanak Maut next work. He also recently worked with Bangla rock giants Fossil on their album titled “F4.” On a personal level, he wants to explore new avenues though. Roy concludes, “I’ve been slowly shifting my production ideals to a more organic space, which is crank friendly - I’m personally sick of the super slick, hyper-produced albums that people seem to want to hear. It makes music boring to listen to and experience, in my opinion. Since I’m a huge fan of the live space, I try and bring that to every album I’m doing now.”