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Bengaluru Band Screetus Take Their Cues Seriously

Nov 05, 03:21pm

Their debut EP ‘Auburn Garden’ makes use of its liberally sprinkled prog-love instead of caving under it

It has been accurately remembered by many that India went through its prog phase in the late 2000s and early 10s. Bengaluru was a place where it was a bit more than that. It took over MP3 players, USB sticks and phone playlists to an extent that for a few years, there really wasn’t much else. India’s erstwhile rock capital became fascinated with bands like Opeth and Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater and your favourite band from the genre here to such an extent that a whole generation had it as standard listening in its adolescent years. Now, of course, things have changed a bit; other sounds have come to the fore (as they should), ears have grown and so on. But that prog vein endures, and that is what three piece band Screetus (Abhishek Sikdar writes and sings, Vijay Rawat plays drums and Vamsi Krishna plays guitar) plays  channels on their EP ‘Auburn Garden’ with intent.

It should be said right away that the four tracks on the EP are all quality stuff and have a metaphorical concept to them (as prog mandates). Especially for a debut, the production and performances here are excellent. There is also consistency between them; there’s no lull or dud on the eighteen-odd minutes of music here. It should also be said that Screetus wear their influences on their sleeve. Quite a bit. The Steven Wilson sounds from his solo career (before he became the sci-fi 80s synthpop-prog flagbearer he is these days; one might assume that his longtime fanbase may not be taking the change very well) are all over the music here. One can also see some Storm Corrosion in moments on opener ‘Deep Caves And Dreary Main’ with its eerie guitars and old synths. The post-heavy sound of Opeth (Heritage and beyond) also colour the production here, but Wilson and Porcupine Tree are almost an imposing force on ‘Auburn Garden’. While ‘Saturn Eyes’ features an upbeat and unsettling synth that generates some interest and ‘Looking Elsewhere’ is a meditative (Blackfield?) number with some cracking bass, closing track ‘Scarlet, Cloudy And Closed’ is one of those songs where you can close your eyes and every album the song pulls from will appear in high definition in your head. That being said, it doesn’t detract from the song’s twists and turns. It is a wholly entertaining eight-and-a-half minutes of rolling prog, and that aspect of this EP is what keeps Screetus from falling into pastiche territory. Yes, their influences are clear for all to see and there are points where it seems stamped into their subconscious, but what comes through from all that is four good tracks and not four complete copies. That bodes really well; a band that can write solid original material on its debut is worth looking out for.

Listen to 'Auburn Garden' here.

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