Chennai musician creates ‘soundscape of pandemic’ | Chennai News


CHENNAI: Like any artist of this generation who’s been forced that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a strange, dystopian world first-hand, Hari Madras found himself in-parts stumped and in-parts overwhelmed with curiosity when the pandemic struck last year.
“What really went on inside me during those initial days was an involuntary storm of emotions – curiosity, rage, frustration, hopelessness, surrender – as was probably the case with anyone trying to survive these times,” he says.
However, the rather comforting quiet left behind by this “storm” is ‘Bloom’, the album he has worked on as part of the film by Richard Anthony.
As a story, ‘Bloom’ travels into the minds of Ashwin and Mitra, a young boy and girl, whose comfortable routines have been disrupted along with their familiarity of things like love, companionship, control and identity. They grapple with the misfit that their known ways of loving and trusting, hurting and healing, have become in a world that’s undergoing a frightening scale of upheaval.
Besides the mass devastation around, what’s making their heads and hearts fertile for these epic reflections is that the boy, a DJ, like many others in his line of work, has run out of shows. While he has more emotional fodder than ever, to create something telling, he frustratingly discovers there are few ears to hear him out. The girl, a visual artist from Bengaluru, finds her life turned on its head, as she’s forced to move to Chennai and live with her parents for days on end. She struggles with these sudden limitations in choice, and a mind exploding with questions with no answers to reassure it.
While this is a sort of metamorphic angst most young people in the country – with the exception of those who’ve had to fight for pressing day-to-day needs – may have been in over the last year, what Hari Madras has done with the album ‘Bloom’, is set this strange psychological graph of these times to tune; one that could validate the sanctity of this learning curve and handhold you through it, even.
Essentially, Hari follows this generation of urban 20-somethings, as they wade through the highly disorienting April of 2020 and forge themselves through a muck of fear, shock, anger, acceptance and self-discovery in the sobering reality of the following months. He also uses the sounds they love to dive into – the new-age synthesiser, and as a personal touch, influences from the 70s and the 80s when electronic pop was a wave.
Bloom, in his own words, is “a soundscape of the pandemic.”
Let’s take the track ‘Saturday Sundowner’, for instance. It follows Ashwin, who after coming to terms with cancelled gigs and payments, packs up his workstation, heads to the terrace and starts playing with a certain brazen abandon. “He plays his own samples, like an outpour of everything he’s feeling, and sets the pulse of this new world. It’s almost like he wants to burn out,” says Hari.
“As a music producer myself, the only thing I could find safety in was my art, to make sense of those times,” says Hari. “In the initial months, I was making my own tracks, collaborating with friends and trying to be productive. But with time, I was also realising that the headspace I was in was ideal to design my own sound, almost like this declaration of who I was and could be, at a time when I was free to work without an agenda but with a pretty intense purpose.”
‘Reality vs Fiction’ , a key track the album and the story hinge on, is an evocative piano melody nurturing a rather profound thought. It is a single melancholic piece that travels with Ashwin and Mitra as they begin to trust and find comfort in each other’s vulnerabilities, and urges you, through the story, to ask yourself – can the cinema, music, art and literature you’re hungrily consuming in isolation this year, comfort your deepest, darkest insecurities about life in an ailing world? And can they perhaps do it in a way no human being can?
Well, it sure is a possibility Hari Madras and Richard Mariane Anthony want you to believe, as they hold back no punches to make you see that somewhere along this loop of the old things lost and new ones found, there’s an equilibrium you will find to bloom on – much like the lotus that comes most alive in the dirtiest muck of its waters.
Which brings us to the track that is the soul of this album, ‘Bloom’, – a gorgeous string ensemble with a breezy percussion that takes from the essence of ‘Reality vs Fiction’, but steps in to answer that question with the promise of love and new beginnings.
“It’s like finding that closure, a grounding from all that chaos that uprooted you.”
It is perhaps the perfect end to how we perceived ourselves until 2019, and an exhilarating beginning to what we know we’re capable of, post 2020.
The project also features musician and lyricist Kaber Vasuki’s poetry, which will be released on June 15.

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