When Arsh Sharma, the frontman and one-man army for the electro-pop/rock/electronica project FuzzCulture entered into 2020, he had no intention to spend the year amidst a pandemic with no gigs. This is something Sharma had a lot of going on in 2019, post the release of his sophomore album ‘Escape to Where You’re Wanted’. Arsh operated on his new EP from scratch and manoeuvred his way into producing a bunch of high fidelity bangers, in consequence making the most out of 2020. This time FuzzCulture took a reverse approach production-wise & incorporated organic elements so that the EP doesn’t sound like it’s been made by computers, adding a deliberate looseness to the production. ‘Strange Cities’ by FuzzCulture was released exclusively on Apple Music on 15th Jan & then went out on all the other streaming platforms on 29th Jan.
Starting with ‘Nicotine’, the vocalist/producer exhibits his lyric oriented approach with layered vocals well woven with groovy synths and jazz sections. The song talks about the sweet addiction to Cigarettes and is also accompanied by a music video that shows Arsh being interrogated by the actor Riddhima Sherekar however, it takes a fun twist eventually. The EP then moves forward to the title track ‘Strange Cities’, which acts as the show-stopper, with an eminent pre-chorus that resolves into a thumpy chorus with ambient vibes. An animated music video for this track was released on the 29th of January which showcases a man traversing through a new city.
The title of the EP (& the track) was conceptualized when Arsh switched cities 3 years back, changing his base from Delhi to Mumbai. However, when we asked him whether the EP derived its sound from the contrasting experiences of both the metros, Sharma said “It doesn’t really take any sounds from the cities per se, or the cities don’t influence the sound. It always is more about feeling than any actual physical derivation. I just wanted to try a different sonic palate from what we were used to using and it was a much more fun job using the wide sonic palette I used on this record, as compared to the slightly more restrictive palate of some previous releases”.
The 3rd track inline is a dream-pop instrumental ‘Brief Encounters’, almost gratifying to the ears, which serves as a mid-way halt in the EP before it takes the listeners to the 2nd half of the electroclash escapade. ‘Starlight’ is depicted as an extraterrestrial story of separation, which is a comparatively faster-paced track in the EP. The curtain falls with ‘Mr. Murder’, a perfect blend of Avant-funk & caliginous vocals which is evident from the part- ‘When thereʼs broken glass & blood on the floor, it feels like home’.
‘Strange Cities’ is an EP consisting of deftly fabricated compositions as a consequence of Arsh’s contemplation, which we referred to as a lyrics-oriented EP when compared to his earlier work to which the frontman replied, “Honestly, just wanted to try something new and these many vocal parts came about by chance rather than design. The songs just felt right that way. Secondly, I love writing and especially trying to tell layered stories, so actually, it was a part of the process which was fun and natural for me”.