A glimpse into chaos

This week, let’s look at Sid Sriram’s full-length album ‘Entropy’

Updated - February 06, 2019 12:06 pm IST

Published - February 05, 2019 03:20 pm IST

In the very recent past, if there is one name in the music industry in South India who evokes a sense of excitement, it is Sid Sriram. The vocalist, composer and playback singer has his heart, mind and voice in Carnatic music sabhas in Chennai as much as the American West Coast’s cerebral hip-hop scene. This is especially evident on his long-awaited full-length album Entropy .

The 12-track LP features some of his older material and some new songs. He opens on a grand scale with ‘Eyes Open’, perhaps a nod to his Indianness if we can assume he is making a reference to the third eye as well, as he sings the hook, “Brown man, what do you see? I see the whole world and it’s staring at me”. There is a sense of conviction straight off, as the production veers in and out of chaos over Carnatic raagas firing off.

But this isn’t just attention-seeking tactics, the mingling of Carnatic vocal harmonies with smooth R&B melodies. Thematically, there is a preface of sorts about Entropy on ‘6 Weeks’ but nothing can perhaps truly prepare listeners for Sid Sriram’s sonic juxtapositions of lo-fi hip-hop, pop (‘It Isn’t True’) and so much more. It is a journey that begins perhaps at the witching hour when the night is not considered young.

Through the course of spoken-word movements and layered production on tracks such as ‘Paper Plates’ and ‘Palm Trees, Fleeting’, it becomes evident that Entropy is a more or less an obfuscated look into the mind of a somewhat turbulent artist - whether personally or artistically. The inner turmoil and his quests around it seem to mirror artists such as Bon Iver, whose song ‘Perth’ is sampled on the ethereal title track.

Sriram also channels the downbeat moodiness of Frank Ocean on tracks such as ‘Back Down’, anchored by a simple guitar line. Where the Carnatic vocal harmonies are underplayed (‘2am Prayer’, Waiting For the Sun’), he channels pop and R&B energy over sprawling instrumentation. The trembling track ‘Daunting’ – almost intentionally arranged in a way to overwhelm – is just the perfect glimpse of his yearning, of taking stock of where he is. He emerges a bit exultant and celebratory, finding clarity on ‘Limitless’.

Maybe ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ won’t be the sound that emerges from followers who know Sriram for his film work, but Entropy is a shape-shifting listen. It is a textured album that probably isn’t reigned in by any brief or particular mood, which works to Sriram’s advantage as an artist on his way to becoming a seasoned voice.

Entropy is out now via JioSaavn

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