• Mon, Sep 16, 2019
Reviews

Mali New Single Is Dramatic And Even- Heavy?

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album Reviews Aug 05, 12:33pm

‘Mango Showers’ carries far more weight than typical singer-songwriter fare  
 Photo Courtesy: Parizaad D , Maalavika Manoj

There are many things a singer-songwriter or indie artist must approach with trepidation, chief among them being a danger of getting stale. The very nature of the genre (a focus on metaphors, story, sparse instrumentation, yadda yadda) means that it’s very easy to get stuck in a sonic box and never leave. Mumbai’s Mali has made a big ol’ left turn with ‘Mango Showers’, which is opulent in its sonic palate, detailed in its songwriting, and has all the lyrical content people come to the genre for. And that’s a W.

 

 


Mali’s last couple of releases (‘Rush’ and ‘Play’) leant towards looking back at her upbringing and exploring her relationship with her grandfather; while they were sincere and well-written, they seemed to occupy the storytelling-with-a-soundtrack space and stayed there. This new song starts off in that space; a verse with Mali’s voice and an acoustic guitar. However, the lyrical content is markedly darker, and that gives the entire track a sense of unease from the get-go. There’s a reason for this; the song is about temptation and vice in general (mango showers being a grey area between the white of summer and black of monsoon), and her experiences (a recent experience, to be specific) in the music industry in particular. Mali says the track is about the dangers of association between art and business in any creative endeavour; any contract and temptations that lure you into business deals that seem much better on face value that they do once you look inward. She had an experience with an industry representative that seems to have had an effect on her and made her more wary of these things. She also references the story of another musician (who we all remember) who died under dodgy circumstances and possibly went through a very toxic experience with someone powerful from the business side of things. 
But the song itself doesn’t directly reference anything, choosing instead to employ theater and metaphors to bring its subject matter across. It also uses elaborate, dark instrumentation, and boy, does it help. Mali uses a fairly plain and simple vocal delivery on ‘Mango Showers’, and when each chorus kicks in after a fairly understated verse, you see why. It’s this dense, ominous mix with guitars, these skull-crushing piano chords and huge orchestral strings sitting right in front, boxy compressed drums in the back, and her voice just about hovering above all of it. Mali cites Mutemath’s ‘Typical’ as an inspiration for the sound of the part (in spirit, at least) and says that producer Rohan Ramanna helped bring a lot of these elements to the track, altering a couple of progressions and changing some of the passages she initially wrote. The choruses are a joy to hear, and after a couple of them, the song goes into an interlude with some Broadway-musical plucked violins and Mali’s voice takes centre stage. And then that goes into the best transition of the song; a wild violin lick that kicks off the last chorus where the sheer weight of all the instrumentation hits you once again. It’s a pretty heady first listen.
It must be said, however, that even though the production has this tone on purpose (Mali used the word ‘claustrophobic’ and that’s probably a good way to put it), it certainly isn’t for people expecting airy, light tones. Anyone who likes a little space in the mix and some ‘vertical’ separation between their instruments will find this a bit molasses-y and probably a lot more so after repeated listens. This is also probably going to be a different animal live; there is no way all those layers can be brought on stage. Mali says that her 4-piece live band is trying to figure out a way to bring that across with just, well, 4 musicians and no backing tracks (a concept she isn’t drawn to. Good.) Anyhow, for all its content, ‘Mango Showers’ shows what a full musical palate can do along with indie sensibilities and some decent songwriting. A lot.

 

Listen and watch the music video below:

 

 

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