In recent years, the indie music space of the country has witnessed a stark increase in the number of musicians who utilize experimentalism and out-of-the-box thinking to build up their compositional schemes and sonic narratives. A handful of them have even diverged away from the mainstream space, approaching music from a very avant-garde point of view – sometimes to the point where the boundaries between music and chaos diminish. Such experimental mixtapes often get side-lined by the press, unlike their commercial counterparts, getting buried underneath the immeasurable roster of new music being produced daily.
Barcelona-based and Mysore-bred instrumentalist Preetam SP’s solo project Bright’s latest concept album UDO (short for ‘Ultra Dysfunctional Offsprings’) hits the nail on the head when it comes to representing this sort of exclusion faced by non-generic music both in its soundscape and theme. If you go into this album expecting to listen to good music, chances are that you will be left highly disappointed. But the record goes beyond that, unveiling a reality that rings true for many, and at the same time urges you to think, really think critically without any biases of what can be perceived as acceptable or unacceptable music.
UDO’s angsty, unconventional and edgy instrumental soundscapes have taken older, nostalgic elements of old-school heavy metal, thrash, and black metal and combined them with the newer and more “socially acceptable” styles of progressive rock, techno, and ambient music to create a post-metal/noise-punk sonic palette that is unprejudiced in its approach and open-minded in its execution.
The record kicks off with harsh, aggressive, and rugged textures in “Burn Notice” and “8 Billion Retards”, paving the way for more dramatic layers to take precedence in “Atarashi Masks”, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Cultureproof”. Bright’s thrash metal influences are noticeable in his use of a crunchy, distorted guitar tone and gritty textures that he uses to highlight his songs. “Atarashi Masks” mellows down in an anti-climactic section with haunting, symphonic vocal samples adding another layer of edge to it. He doesn’t shy away from introducing glitchy, electronic embellishments in “Super-sane” either, flaunting sheer confidence and assurance in his sound.
Demarcated via a smooth transition from “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, the album’s title track “Ultra Dysfunctional Offsprings” creates a pulsating, concentric soundscape of heavy guitar chugging and wacky synth embellishments that blooms into a rather out-of-place sloppy guitar solo very anti-climatically.
If Bright’s synth-wave influences were used more as a highlighting tool up till now, it only gets stronger and bolder with “Outlandish” and “Conqueror of Worlds” the latter of which sounds almost like a hardcore rave track with its glitchy techno-driven outline. Bright freely lets electronica overtake the album’s palette in “Sedate My Name” with rock-influenced drumming replacing sampled repetitive bass beats, denoting the musician’s uninhibition in using conventionally incongruent styles of music.
“Forever Dead” is an antithesis of the album’s angsty, raucous flavours, and just as you start getting used to this period of calm, it re-introduces its fast-paced shreddy guitars into the game resulting in a rough, head-bang-worthy track for you to savour. Bright lets his pianistic ideas dominate at the end of the album in its closing track “Copious Dreams”, with a rather dissonant and unrestrained piano solo crafting its instrumentation.
UDO comes off as a record that doesn’t aim to impress but on the contrary, serves to cause discomfort. Its sharp edges might seem like something you’d not want to indulge in at a glance, but once you get into its groove, it’s hard to stop. You’d usually expect such a record to be quite stubborn in its outlook, therefore its non-judgemental approach and ability to take influence from diverse styles of music come as a bit of a surprise. This helps to take the edge off, with flashy and on-your-face elements neatly balancing out the angst and grit. Upholding the spirit of anti-norm, anti-music, and anti-anything that falls within the ambit of the system, Bright’s UDO really establishes its identity as an avant-garde record both in spirit and attitude.