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Lifafa - In Hi Ko


album Reviews May 08, 02:18pm

A review of In Hi Ko, the new EP by Delhi's Chudail Step producer/composer Lifafa.


Lifafa, the self-styled Chudail Step exponent, returns with his second EP, called In Hi Ko, another foray in experimental electronic sounds. Lifafa is actually Suryakant Sawhney, who fronts Delhi’s nutty cabaret/psychedelic/Bollywood/rock ‘n’ roll band Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC), so, as expected, this release oozes kitsch, light avant-garde, garbled, drawling, indecipherable vocals for the most part, and a shit load of Bollywood, right from opener ‘In Hi Ko’. In fact, that opening song has a vocal melody straight from the glorious ’70s, a time when Amitabh Bachchan was young and angry; there was no salt ‘n peppery fuzz, no thick rimmed glasses, and far fewer gossip columns. A time when Kurt Cobain was still alive, albeit a toddler, and Paul McCartney was still somewhat cool and not a complete joke; and traffic and road rage weren’t even on the horizon then. Through note selection spread over a canvas of cascading synths and repetitive, disco-esque drum grooves, and a bastardized, psychedelicized version of playback singing, Lifafa’s release manages to evoke a passing trip down memory lane, even if this reviewer was a fair few years away from even being born. Imagined nostalgia, basically, tinged with a strong modern flavour to it; blame it on the magic (or otherwise) of television and old relatives.

Moving on, In Hi Ko is a significant departure from Lifafa’s first EP, Lifafa I, which came out last year. First of all, it’s not called Lifafa II. Then, there’s a far stronger connect between Peter Cat Recording Co.’s music and Lifafa’s music here – ‘Irradon’ sounds a lot like a PCRC outtake or B-side, or even an alternate version of their song ‘Love Demons’. There’s obviously nothing wrong with that and similarities are naturally expected, but the weird spaces that Lifafa I was trying to explore are kept somewhat at the back in this four-song release, with ‘Tofah’ alone in attempting to head into slightly exacting territories in terms of glitchy loops setting up moods, although the accessibility and the melodic foundation remains fully in place.  The kitsch overtakes the avant-garde here, as revolving synth melodies and distant vocal lines dictate the flow of the songs – the moodiness and exploratory nature of Lifafa’s sound previously has evolved into a more explicitly structured, ‘song’-driven thing with far more in-your-face and almost-straightforward melodies. Nevertheless, continuity is sort of retained through ‘Agnee Redux’, a reduxed version of ‘Agnee’, which featured on EP no. 1.

As a whole, though, In Hi Ko, maintains an experimental spirit, just that the direction has changed; with the experiments leaning more towards using and abusing conventional styles and melodies, and maybe developing, or attempting to develop, something unique. The music, despite the generous sprinkling of peppiness, does have an enchanting quality, a remote, haunting atmosphere to it with a haziness attached. And it really wouldn’t be out of place in a weird, new-age Bollywood crossover film, really. 


Stream In Hi Ko by Lifafa below:

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