IndianElectronica.com - Omnesia Review

Album Review - Omnesia

Having met Anuj last year at the Indian Electronica festival, we discovered we had conflicting sets so didn't get to check each other out. This didn't stop us freestyling while Prithpal played tabla. So, when he sent me his album, I was very excited to check it out and man, I was not disappointed in what I heard.

My biggest fear was that it was going to be esoteric drum'n'bass, all at the same tempo, with meandering spoken word over the top (and I've already saturated that market thank you very much), but what I actually heard was proper, good ol'fashioned, simple Plain-Jane SONGWRITING on display. It was a joy to hear, as the closest thing we have to songwriters are Asian Dub Foundation, who fly through their songs with polemical urgency, and Nitin Sawhney, who needs a vocalist on the song to ensure it keeps to classic songwriting.

Reading the sleeve-notes was a revelation, as I found Rastogi had played pretty much every single instrument on the album. I was also surprised to learn that it was not in fact his voice during the female caterwauling moments [ha! -Editor].

So, to the record, it starts disjointed, with a broken rhythm on ‘String Theory' with the strings pulsing out from under the drums to create a mournful soundscape. Soon, we're lurching into the political area of the album, where Rastogi creates a long subdued and melodical backing track, seeping in classical Indian elements, before launching into one of the album's few voices, with some spoken word about his reflections on himself when surrounded by the world today. He sounds unsure and contemplative and it makes for a musically honest moment. More spoken word please.

‘The River' is the album highlight for me. It teases you with a rhythm that never quite explodes as you expect it to. What you get is 6 blissful minutes of introspective beautifully harmonised music, the percussion leading the way with it's teasing off-kilter hits. ‘The River' is his work of art, the album's gem. With all the strings and sitars, and tabla and beautiful keyboards all over the album, with the singing samples and the liveness of the whole project, the non-reliance on samples, the focus on creating these musical lines himself, all this is showcased to perfection in ‘The River.'

This is a talented musician with a lot more to say. Especially when he hides his spoken word capabilities on two songs on the album. Here is a man who can only get better and surpass a strong first album. Whatever happens, this is most definitely the place to start with Anuj Rastogi's work.

Rating (out of 5):  4
Released:  Oct 2007

IndianElectronica - Omnesia Review

Nikesh Shukla