• Thu, Apr 18, 2024

Exclusive: Rachanachar EP Is a Layered Journey Hidden in Simplicity

features Mar 15, 11:50am

'Forth and Back' is another great example of how one voice can speak volumes 
 Photo Courtesy: Pinecone Records

There is this funny thing that one comes across during a lifetime of listening to music; the depth of a group’s instrumentation or the number of different sounds used by an artist can sometimes be detrimental to the quality of a piece of music. Just like any other art form, music also has beauty in simplicity. The story one is trying to tell can be communicated through the different tones and melodies of a few essential instruments, just as it can be conveyed by a few elements or shades of colour by a painter. ‘Forth and Back’ is an EP that has a pattern that is not unfamiliar; it tells stories (sometimes complex ones) with one acoustic guitar. What is exciting (as with many fingerstyle guitar albums) is how one voice is made to speak volumes.
The album is three songs long and features nothing more than Pranjal Uniyal’s acoustic guitar, but it is important to note that it is primarily a narrative. It is not spoofed to the listener or clear what exactly the narrative is, but it’s front and center. Since his playing is so expressive and the recording so pristine, there are no distractions by way of intruding textures or ambience to detract from the listening experience. All things considered, however, what comes across is a fairly simple musical representation of being lost and then found, and then lost and found again. It sounds like an ongoing and continuous process, and it provokes repeated listens.
The songs themselves are much clearer when listened to than described, but there are a few technical flashes that will give the listener the gratification one might find while listening to a well-performed piece. Opener ‘Bon Voyage’ starts with some dissonance that is far from reassuring and has an air of foreshadowing about it. The track shifts into more positive and hopeful passages as the song goes on, however, and eventually the jaunty, carefree sound that fingerstyle guitar conveys so efficiently is put on full display. ‘Faraway Home’ is full of reverb, a little bit of modulation and tons of personality. It’s the most hard-hitting of the tracks on the EP and seems to be continuously unhappy of itself. There’s an undertone of anger here, as if Pranjal is hitting his guitar harder because he hasn’t found what he’s looking for. Tonally, there’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but the mood of the song is definitely confused and frustrated. Closer ‘Glad To Be Back’ is probably the most literal and linear of the three songs; it is simple and exuberant. It shows Pranjal pulling out all his technical chops and the happiest of his melodic passages, because it seems like where he is he wants to be.
Despite its length and lack of extra instrumentation, ‘Forth And Back’ has a purity and distilled quality to it that makes it a compelling listen, and it manages to put across a lot while not necessarily saying much overtly. Silence and space are big characters on this EP, and it makes the experience surprisingly easy and accessible without making Pranjal sound like a show-off. Below is a short interview where he discusses his musical and creative inspirations. 



How did you come across fingerstyle guitar?  

I used to play metal, and was quite getting into the genre back in the days, when one day I heard a friend of mine play a section from Ocean by John Butler for me. At that moment, I was blown away by those sounds, those techniques and the approach towards another realm of music which was sounded so pure and yet so powerful that I could hear a roaring organism trying to depict a story of its own.
At that moment, I came to an understanding about what I’m going to do with the rest of my time. I went back home and tuned my guitar to Open C (what John tunes his guitar to on Ocean), and started experimenting with a totally different approach towards music, storytelling and expressing. Later, went onto discovering much more fingerstyle guitarists who helped in shaping my musical approach over the coming years.


How do you approach telling complex, layered stories with such a stripped back form of music?

I kind of consider myself as lucky, as I never intend to write a song about a definite purpose while I’m composing it. I love experimenting with new tunings (opened and altered), and sometimes while just goofing around with the guitar, some cool riffs come into existence out of nowhere. Then I use the voicings in my head which I desire and feel can support the previous section, try to play them uniquely on my guitar. After a while I have a whole new song from the ‘universe’, which I improve over the next few days, and polish them accordingly.
Post the completion, I name that song according to the closest feeling it evokes, and later many of such created songs somehow fall into a single storyline. This is what happened for Rachanachar’s story too. The songs came prior to the whole story and I could relate to it very well, as I’m sure everybody on this planet would.




Where did the inspiration for the character come from?

The whole inspiration for Rachanachar was derived from my own experiences, how I had a loving mother, how I left her for pursuing shallow dreams in the big city, and how I returned to her after getting so sick that I was about to die of it. I could not find the answers at that time and I felt vindicated and complete when I got back. 
I never intended on telling my story through this medium, but when these music pieces took shape, I could not help but wonder how the story of Rachanachar is (not) different from mine! And as a matter of fact, how is it different from anyone else on this planet? Apart from having everything and everyone around us who love and support us, how we do not value those and kind of drive people away emotionally constantly, and reach a faraway place within ourselves where we can’t find the answers anymore; when hope and dreams seem to be fading away and nothing interests you anymore. But, if returned to the source, one might find the joy that this world has to offer, and that is the ultimate truth.



“I try to depict those sounds in best possible way that I can convey through my 6-stringed instrument. ”
- Rachanachar



Do other instruments come to you (mentally, at least) during the songwriting process?

Yes, many instruments. Be it howling, beating of the drums, or any other sound that I can wonder of at the moment, I try to render those voices and try shaping them according to my instrument. I try to depict those sounds in best possible way that I can convey through my 6-stringed instrument. 


Listen to the "Forth and Back" here


Watch the video below:


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