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A Journey Through the Crossover of Indian and Electronic Music: Pluto Monkey’s EP “Ethnic Transmission”

Pluto Monkey ( aka Antriksh Mohapatra),a multi-instrumentalist hailing from the streets of the capital released his debut EP titled “Ethnic Transmission” in late January this year. This EP marks the culmination of the “new fusion” sound he collaborated on with various artists for quite some time. He’s aimed to set foot into some very bold and new electronic music spaces with this record.

The EP starts off with what sounds like a sitar sting laced with an electric piano. In a very interesting move, Pluto Monkey uses the panning synths to build up the tension, instead of resorting to using conventional risers. The beat drops and immediately catches the listeners off guard with a house type beat with a loud and thumping kick which continues for the rest of the song. The drums start to die down as a panning vocal sample with some kind of tuned percussion element on it lends itself to the end of each bar. The same beat is brought back in, only this time with the additional vocal sample. We hear some wah-ified guitars as the track comes to a close.

The next track “Shahi Durbaar” starts off with a similar sitar sting and electric piano. Pluto samples Steve Vai’s “Blood and Tears” for the opening of this one. Percussion in the form of a tabla and a shaker is dropped in. The approach to percussion on this EP is very minimalistic. Only using a few elements but still filling up the track in a very sonically pleasing way. The tabla drops out to be replaced with a soft piano in the back and what sounds like a flute which has been pitched up a few semitones. We hear another vocal sample on this, which sounds like an aalap from an Indian classical song.

Talaab of Blue starts off immediately with some lofi-boom bap drums,open hats and a piano giving out some chill chords. The drum pattern is also that of classic boom bap songs (kick-snare-double kick-snare). A shaker is brought in after which Pluto brings in a very interesting lead choice, it has a tiny bit of dissonance to it when it starts, which adds a very nice element to it. This lead is then chopped up with all the drums coming in. The tension is resolved as the song comes to its crescendo. The track closes out with another lead and the same Steve Vai sample used in “Shahi Durbaar”.

Mashriq energy starts off, riddled with hi hats and a reverberating piano sound. A teentaal sample comes in, again a very interesting choice from Pluto’s end. It’s occasionally enhanced with subtle horns here and there. The sounds all drop out to bring in some new drum sounds, and also what sounds like a pulsating guitar sting that morphs into a piano, then a synth. This track has a very score-like feel to it.

The closing track of this EP begins with some sort of vernacular percussion sounds over which lofi claps and synths are added. The beat seems to be in an odd time signature, it has a bounce and an odd tension to it. A synth lead comes in along with a vocal sample which seems to be a line in Bangla, played half and half at various points in the song. Everything but the drums drop out one by one as the track fades out.

Taking a leaf out of Pluto’s sonic book, visual artist Savitha Ravi created a series of prints titled “Echoes of Patterns”, which aims to explore the “ profound intersection of architectural spaces and cherished memories” and the power architecture holds to cement memories within our minds. One of these prints in fact, is the cover art for this EP.

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This EP is a breath of fresh air in today’s electronic music landscape. With a runtime of just under 14 minutes, Pluto Monkey has carved a new kind of subgenre in the electronic music space, Indo-Fusion. The effort and time put into this “new fusion” sound shines through as it happens to be a fantastically enjoyable ride through the depths of the crossover of Indian and electronic music.


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