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Krameri reinvents herself with new album ‘Intrusive Thoughts’

Krameri, an ever evolving genre-fluid act, is a duo (with Gopi Krishnan) turned solo venture of Gujarat born singer-songwriter and producer Damini Chauhan. Her latest album ‘Intrusive Thoughts’ comes after a string of wide-ranging singles spanning a period of two years. This ability to create an extremely diverse catalogue of music is no surprise given her training as an Indian and Western classical musician at AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory in Chennai.

Where most of the singer-songwriters of India try to conform to a ‘boy/girl next door playing a guitar’ mould and choose to chase the trends, Krameri chooses to forge her unique trajectory. Looking back at her previous projects, it is pretty evident that she is not afraid to let her emotions guide the constant reinvention of her style and sound. Be it electronica in ‘Dreams of a unicorn’, classical fusion in ‘Hampstead’ or nostalgic lo-fi pop in ‘Feels like amnesia’, every sound and accompanying lyrics mark a different era in the singer’s life.

With ‘Intrusive Thoughts’, Krameri turns the page and opens a more personal chapter of her life. The singer’s tatted gloomy face on the cover hits at a major 2010s SoundCloud emo-rap influence on this record and a sped up ‘Shiloh Dynasty’ sample in ‘Second Chances’ strengthens the case.

In the opener ‘Plans’, Krameri designs a future with her imaginary muse in a Lana Del Rey inspired style of writing and singing. With isolated echoing vocals she constructs a wearied atmosphere, a thing that is heard throughout the album. Songwriting takes a front seat in ‘Second Chances’ as she expresses her desire to be loved like no other. The track has a dynamic composition where melodies keep changing but sadly don’t flow into each other smoothly. A better execution of a similar theme is seen in Thpcmkr produced ‘Losing Myself’. Use of a variety of percussions and sound effects provides depth and a futuristic sound to this dark pop track. As we move through the album, Krameri’s mood and expression of love keeps changing. Leaving the blues behind, she adds a dance tune to the mix with ‘Magnetic!’. It won’t be a surprise if we see a lovesick girl grooving to “I’m so old when you’re not around, you come over and I’m suddenly a Gen-Z” in a cheesy rom-com film. This nascent love matures in the follow-up ‘Door Se Ye Darmiyaan’. Lyricist, Amenn Wihaan, adds a lot of depth to the track as he brings his learned vocabulary to the table.

Krameri’s characteristic alaaps feature on a surprisingly weak single ‘Find Me’. Shaky out of tune vocals and tasteless production by frequent collaborator, 6091 pull each other down to make this a sorry affair. Padmavathy Divakaran helps bring the train back on track with ‘Regret’. Her dense bassline complimenting the singer’s high pitched voice decorated with little ‘drop’ sound effects give Krameri a platform to channelise her inner popstar.

The mood of the album switches yet again as the theme of heart break continues to a guitar based lo-fi jam ‘we could go out sometime’. This time the conversation isn’t single sided, Rapper Tienas reciprocates our protagonist’s feelings as they go their separate ways with a lingering hope of ending back together—”I’ll say get in the car, let’s go for a drive and get high tonight. Maybe one day, I’ll be the one by your side”. Contrary to the awkward flow of the album, Krameri’s flow on the trap banger ’21/90′ screams of confidence. As is consistent throughout the album—the use of a variety of percussions in the beat, the breaks, keep the listeners on their feet. Adding to the ever changing soundscape, a collaboration with french producer Guillaume Leglise ensues on the experimental track ‘palm trees and white lilies’. The ‘feels like amnesia’ maker sings with a lot more contentment as we move towards the end of the album. ‘Alleyways’ brings us back to where we started from as Krameri dreams of a life with her (new?) muse. Her spacey vocals are elevated beautifully by angelic harmonies and a minimal production. Amenn Wihaan writes another ode to lost toxic love in ‘Barbaadi’. The song just like the album feels like a vicious cycle of frantic love and heartbreak. The penultimate track ‘Grey Shadows’ produced by Pranav Nigam squeezes into my favourite songs of the year list because of the heavenly harmonies interwined with Krameri’s contrasting singing styles; special shoutout to the Arpit Bala stream sample in the outro which made absolutely no sense to me. The lead single, ‘3 A.M’, serves as a peaceful outro to this intense album.

Everything we hear on the second half of the album is essentially similar to the first; difference being the contentment with which Krameri sings in the latter half of the project and a softer mix of the vocals making them float on the beats. While the unpredictability in influences and the exploration of wide range of sounds adds to the listening experience, it also detracts from familiarity, potentially disconnecting listeners from the emotional aspects of the album. Krameri has never shied away from exploring realms of music previously unfamiliar to her, trying to do something different is her ‘thing’ and flaws come as a byproduct of her artistic growth. Although, ‘Intrusive Thoughts’ has it’s fair share of let downs, it’s only indicative of a brighter future for the artist

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