Under the Influence: A Review

Under the Influence is a duo from Delhi/Mumbai who call their music a melting pot. This is a review of their new eponymous EP. A big thank you to @MusicDipBlog for the intro.

The situation of the song has been played out from the time immemorial and is about the helplessness a man faces when he is truly bowled over by someone. Abhijit Lahiri’s lyrics capture this quandary in plain simple words, the cornerstone of a well structured song. Time again there has been instances of stellar music being waylaid by crappy lyrics, but not this one. Do pay attention to the lyrics when you listen to it, this song has a sing along quality. I haven’t come to the best part yet, the music of the song. Under The Influence is “a two piece piano drive alternative band” and loves to call their music a melting pot which is quite true. Take this song for instance, its rhythm makes it a drum and bass track and it also has a really cool piano solo which can be cut-pasted into a jazz number. It’s low-fi recording and lingering bass gives it a very downtempo feel and the backdrop of electronic effects completes it. This song is a very good choice for an EP opener and sets the tone for the whole album.

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The best thing about Abhijit Lahiri’s voice is that it belts out the lyrics very convincingly. He is easily able to impart the feel to the lyrics without sounding fake. And mind you that is a big deal and is where a many an Indian band has failed badly. The song starts of a jazzy piano hook and an accordion sounding instrument joins the piano along with the drums. And this arrangement plays the second fiddle to the lead vocals. I have got to admit that I really liked the mood of the song which I felt was like that mellowed feeling you get when you are drunk.

This happy song on its first listen brought the jumping image of M.C. Hammer to my mind. It sings about the virtues of being alive and preaches the benefits of laying low etc. What I liked about this song is how the piano is blended into this track. During the beatsy section of the track the piano fades to the background and slowly intrudes into the main track. Towards the end the fusion is sweet but like a teaser it doesn’t last enough. I would have liked it better if that piano solo in the end had sustained a while longer it could have taken this song to the next level.

This song is built around a classic Jazz template and instantly captures your attention. This groovy track has a very familiar bass guitar riff. It forms the backbone of this track and gives it a film noir caper feel. The song again deals with a human condition and is humorous and instructional at the same time. This song is part classic and part contemporary and yet not an anachronism.

This piano laden track has a strong drum and bass rhythm to it from the start but instead of breaking out into an out and out DnB song the UTI has managed to insert a blues style guitar interlude. Then song gathers pace and ends like a typical DnB song. The seamless absorption of the blues into this song makes it memorable.

Under the influence is definitely a group to watch out for. With their amalgamated music which draws inspiration from various contemporary and classical traditions they give us quite a rich listening experience. I feel bands like these who tread the thin line between pop and eclectic exposes listeners to alternative genres of music without getting bewildered by the new sounds. Talking about this EP, on a whole all it is very well produced and it vouches for the professionalism of these guys. I am really looking forward to see them play live.

The songs are available for bundle download here.