A Math-Rock Essential From Shillong, Murder In Space’s Debut EP “Welcome Home”

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The independent music space in India is constantly in the process of adopting new sounds and styles and every passing day, we come across more artists bringing fresh new elements to the table. After jazz, blues, metal, hip-hop, electronica, and others, musicians are introducing myriad hues into their sonic palettes – music that nobody imagined would grab an audience here. As the artists delve deeper into the intricacies of styles and genres, we get an opportunity to experience these first-hand and hear them outside the western arena where they dominate.

Back in the day Midwest emo and math-rock were genres that you could only find through extensive exploration or if you were already into that kind of music (think American Football, TTNG, Standards, Covet, Delta Sleep, etc., etc.). Intricate, buoyant, and repetitive guitar riffs accompanied by complex drumming, polyrhythmic sections, and sunshine-happy vibes flowing all around – such is the essence of this kind of music; sometimes enmeshed together with equally sappy lyrics. Eventually, a few artists took that to another notch by eliminating vocals completely, and coming up with lengthy and fluent melodic pieces that found their roots in progressive music and post-rock. In Shillong, two musicians decided to bring this sound to the canvas of independent music in the country and thus formed Murder in Space, a two-piece suit that recently released their debut EP Welcome Home on July 24 via No Binary Records.

The record is a bold initiative in experimenting with a rather complex set of sonic elements and for a debut album, it has gotten its basics down. Sure, it slips up at some points like any other record, but even so, executes its goal meticulously, setting an impression that the band members know what they are doing. Overall, Welcome Home carries with it a heightened sense of glee with just the slightest tinge of melancholy. The band has incorporated all math-rock essentials into the EP including a crispy guitar tone, dynamic shifts in rhythm and tempo, peppy bass lines, and bubbly drums.

Murder in Space’s Welcome Home succeeds in many aspects as much as it lags behind in others. As mature is the overall mix of the album, the sampled drums kind of come off as a setback since the math-rock is pretty much marked by its use of extensive and complex drumming. Although the band has captured the key essence of the kind of music they’re trying to portray, there still lies a significant amount of potential for progress. Hopefully, this record serves as a learning lesson for the musicians to take note of where they fell flat, and come up with a more polished mixtape in the future. But when it comes to introducing the indie scene with this kind of music, they have done a great job, to say the least.

Kicking off with the frolicking “Monsoon”, the album lays down an overall feel-good vibe that is noticeable throughout the entirety of the EP. The solo at the climax of the song adds a certain level of creativity to its soundscape. “Rush” is more ebullient and groovier, adding a touch of sparkle to the record with its scintillating guitar lines and punchy rhythm sections. “Change” on the contrary falls flat in keeping up with the energy of the other tracks in the record. A bit bland in its creative sphere, it can come off as boring after a point. But regardless, it revels in its simplicity. “Band Practice” flaunts major Chon and Toe influences in its soundscape with snazzy guitar riffs and rhythmic breaks upholding the ethos of the target genres. “2nd Wave” delves into the darker side of the record’s mood, incorporating shmaltzy guitar and bass lines. Painting a kaleidoscopic sonic canvas with a twinkly guitar tone, the song executes itself fluidly. “Home”, the final track of the album is calmer than its forerunners, relying on looped melody lines layered on top of each other to express itself. A state of calm after the storm, the song is almost like a quaint whisper thriving in between shimmering notes and vocal samples.

Murder in Space’s Welcome Home succeeds in a lot of aspects as much as it lags behind in a lot of them. As mature is the overall mix of the album, the sampled drums come off as a setback since math-rock is marked by its use of extensive and complex drumming. Although the band has successfully captured the essence of the kind of music they’re trying to portray, there still lies a significant amount of potential for progress. Hopefully, this record serves as a learning lesson for the musicians to take note of where they fell flat, and come up with a more polished mixtape in the future. But when it comes to introducing the indie scene with this kind of music, they have done a great job, to say the least.