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Begum’s dreamy debut a labour of love
BHANUJ KAPPAL  13th Sep 2014




There's a little one room barsaati in Delhi's Hauz Khas Village that has become the epicentre of one of the country's most exciting little scenes. It's here that the boys in cabaret-punk act Peter Cat Recording Co. (pcrc) and their friends host their fantastic little house parties with cutting edge live music and, on occasion, live art performances. It's also the home base and recording studio for their many side projects. One of these is the lo-fi dreampop band Begum that has recently come out with a scintillating debut album.

Titled Bagh, the 10-track album romps through dreampop, post-rock, alt-rock and folk sounds, all whilst drifting in a swirling, lo-fi haze. The songs are more like well structured jams that move along at a comfortable, languid pace, partly due to the fact that guitarist Karthik Pillai, drummer Karan Singh (both from pcrc) and bassist Khsitij Dhyani recorded the entire thing in one take. Lead single Waiting kicks off with a dreamy guitar line very reminiscent of pcrc's first album and a shuffling beat before Singh turns up the tempo with a martial stomp of a rhythm. The upbeat Make It Till 4 is a reasonably straightforward but very catchy indie rock tune that belongs in every Pitchfork reader's playlist. But the highlight of the album is Raj D Minor, in which melancholic guitars and a seductive little bassline slowly pull you in while Pillai croons softly — it's a gem of a track. There's also the hypnotic riffs and vaguely sitar-like leads on album closer Aragumbay — named after the beach in Sri Lanka — which also features some excellent bass playing by Dhyani. Bagh is a work of stark, melancholic and compelling beauty (along with some straight up catchy uptempo bits). Go grab it now.

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