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Review

Sikkimese Singer-Songwriter Aabhishkar Thatal’s Multi-Lingual Debut EP ‘Hiunda’ Is A Folk-Pop Gem

Aabhishkar Thatal, our artist for today, offers a fresh sound to the industry with his unique mix of pop and folk elements. Based in Gangtok, Sikkim, he started his journey in the Nepali music scene through his involvement in bands like The Ethnic Statement from Gangtok and Kolama, a Delhi-based band. He later made his solo entry through releases like ‘Khayeko Kasam,’ ‘Nau Daanda Pari,’ and ‘Katha.’ Known for his dynamic stage presence and ability to engage with the audience, Thatal has something special to offer to the hills. 

His latest EP ‘Hiunda,’ is a folk-pop/ ballad/ acoustic set that is packed with emotions. The EP, with its tender, gentle music has the artist’s personal, intimate touch throughout the journey. It starts with the track ‘Brahmanda Ko Katha,’ with a sweet guitar intro and the soothing voice of Thatal. Translating to ‘Story of the Universe,’ the song sets the mood for the EP through its light rhythm with the dreamy instrumental in the middle that does justice to the title of the song. The song is entirely carried by its lyrics with the outro introducing the names of each song in the EP. ‘Brahmanda Ko Katha,’talks about how one’s inner beauty can be more effective than that of the entire universe, a refreshing theme in the scene. The song feels like a refreshing dip in a river.

Continuing with the pleasant mood is ‘Nau Daanda Pari,’ or ‘Nine Hills Apart,’ the second song of the EP. Originally released on August 20, this track is an acoustic demo of the song with unprocessed takes and imperfect production. A bold move on the artist’s side. However, this also sheds light on how every little thing was carefully thought out in the EP. Thatal has put out an EP that was made intentionally and that’s exactly why it delivers what the artist wanted to. The song showcases that perfection is an illusion and that joy can be found mostly in imperfect things. With the husky, silky smooth vocals backing this idea, the message is conveyed while the song itself talks about keeping long-distance relationships strong through love.

As mentioned before, Thatal has treated the album with some personal elements including some of the country’s favourite themes like nostalgia and grandparents. One such song in the EP is ‘Babai.’ With its nostalgic intro radiating a very ‘travel song’ energy, the song is about stories from a grandparent’s perspective. It is the amalgamation of different stories from different people in a village. The lullaby effect of the song is perfectly interwoven with the theme of grandparents. ‘Babai’ is a time capsule that reveals itself when times are changing, and the stars have aligned into one house. The said ‘revealing’ is beautifully conveyed through unveiling drum sounds and other instruments with the artist’s high-pitched vocals. It also makes use of ambient sounds like raindrops falling on a windowsill which give a nostalgic flavour to the track. The song uses a first-person narrative of his grandfather and his days of glory and makes use of native instruments giving it the ultimate intimate, regional touch.

The fourth song in the EP is ‘Meri Aama (Kagazey Vimaan)’ or ‘My mother (Paper Airplane.)’ Although this might appear as a song about motherhood, it is a dialogue exchange between a fictional mother and her son. The son asks his mother about love finding his way to which the mother gives reassurance saying he would someday surely find his way to love. Following this is a monologue by the son, all designed as a song with the choice of instruments adding depth and emotion. It also has a slight pop element, and the innocence of a child is perfectly brought about by Thatal. 

‘Hiunda,’ the last track in the EP is a pop ballad in the tuning of DADGAD where the artist sings of a love that can turn the cold into a source of warmth. The title track glorifies love and poetry and is the perfect outro which brings the listener back to the world with a residue of sweet emotions. 

The EP on the whole has not just shown Aabhishkar Thatal as a vocalist and music producer but also as a poet. It can act as a soothing balm to anybody even if they’re not familiar with the language. It is warm, fuzzy and perfect for winter, which is also what the title of the EP, ‘Hiunda,’ essentially means. It leaves the listeners wanting more and proves that language is no barrier to feeling and understanding what an artist tries to say through his art.  

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