How ambitious is it to call your debut collection of songs ‘Greatest Hits’? Well it is just the kind of boastful attitude you toast when there are rappers involved. Working with rappers A La Moksh aka Sameer Ul Haq and xcpt. aka Aishan Vali, Hyderabad-bred producer and composer No Hero aka Akhil Kodamanchili, there is a braggadocios air to the four-track Greatest Hits .
A major influence, as noted by the trio themselves, is early Linkin Park, drawing from the dark hip-hop-meets-chunky-guitars approach that was famous on albums such as Hybrid Theory and their remix album Reanimation .
In just 12 minutes, the trio want to fill your head with about a thousand thoughts, but it doesn’t seem claustrophobic. The introductory ‘1point1’ is sharp, with xcpt stepping in style to take on haters with self-deprecation. Things get evenly into head-bobbing rhythmic territory on ‘Wabi Sabi’, the shimmering clicks and pulled-back beats matching xcpt’s poetic flow. That is when the gravelly voice of A La Moksh comes in, adding a Hindi verse that leads up to a bluesy solo from No Hero . There is more string-bending and synth-play in action on ‘Sight.Sounds.City’, decked with verses about a scene out of any urban landscape, the chorus summing up, “Feast on the sights and the sounds of the city, loud, proud, profound yet silly.”
They experiment with a time signature gone haywire, matching even more calculated delivery from xcpt on ‘Mined State’, sort of a tortured internal monologue that breaks out of the clutter with an uneasily calm chorus. While No Hero has previously dabbled in everything that counts as mind-shifting rock in his still-nascent career, when he’s got two rappers on board, the music changes directions to become a lot more hard-hitting while staying memorable. Releasing singles each week, Sharam Masala is a snapshot of the trio oscillating between seething resignation to raising a call to action, albeit, in their own metaphorical way. It has got fast parts, meditative beats and is pretty much littered with glitch that adds the grittiness like few other releases in India. It’s dark, but it is transformative.
Hear the EP on thesoundswithin.com