Ethnotechno - 'Omnesia' Review

Anuj Rastogi: Omnesia

The debut release of Toronto's Anuj Rastogi is a passage almost as varied as the city he hails from. Hindi, Celtic and Slavic lyrics coalesce easily enough with electronica - glitchy and otherwise - and organic instruments to create a solid first effort from this young producer. Already well known in local Toronto circles as one-half of the Dishoom parties - the other half being IndianElectronica.com founder Qasim Virjee - Anuj is now poised to emerge on the world electronica stage as force to be reckoned with and this record is his vehicle to do just that.

Opener "String Theory" is demonstrative of what Anuj does best; moody, mid-tempo, atmospheric electronic programming and keys set a nice platform for Avatari Dey and her Hindi lament. "Blue Orchid" is a gorgeous and sublime downbeat instrumental, sure to tug at the heartstrings of many a Café Del Mar/Buddha Bar fan. Sunny Ray offers up his pipes on "Breaking News (Revelations)" along with spoken word by Anuj himself and the sitar of Prosad. Omnesia does not lack in melodies, as this composition proves. "C'mon", with Nadia Syed on lead vocals and Branko Boras on guitar is Balearic in spirit and is a surprising success with its scratching, electronics and multi-layered sound.

"The River" and "Jaane Do" have slowly been catching on quite a following, thanks to MySpace and the Indian Electronica Compilation and both for good reason. Anuj's fiancé, Falitaa Chhabra shows up on the former and carries this lilting folk-electronic with her stirring vocals, while Sandra Chibuluzo's soulful voice makes "Jaane Do" a highlight of the disc.

Omnesia closes out where it started, with the Avatari Dey/Sandra Chibuluzo/Anuj Rastogi collaboration "Grasshopping". Backward-looping vocals accompany synth programming and electronic drum patterns sublimely and effectively. Although spanning fourteen tracks, these 55 minutes sure do fly by fast.

While it is a far from perfect album - a few too many interludes and a Slavic language track that gets lost in translation are among its snags - it's a strong enough effort from a first time producer to warrant a purchase. At moments, Omnesia travels the route of Niraj Chag's "Along The Dusty Road" in breadth and scope. While some producers with more experience in the game fail on their first attempt, Anuj Rastogi should be able to chalk himself up a clear win on this one. Needless to say, his next album should pick up where this one left off, with ambition and vision.

Picks:

  • string theory (pick)
  • blue orchid
  • anatomy
  • breaking news (reflections)
  • breaking news (revelations)
  • c'mon
  • the river (pick)
  • under the streetlight
  • let it go
  • jaane do
  • celtic haunt
  • turmoil in the west
  • turmoil in the east
  • grasshopping (pick)

sreekanth