How The Earth Below carves melancholy and dreams of a bad review

In his own words, the reception to Deepak Raghu’s third release as The Earth Below, Dreams of a Thousand Stillness, has been “overwhelmingly good”. But he remains skeptical of its success. “Some might argue that, that’s because my work is mediocre at best,” he says.

Raghu, whose solo project The Earth Below has been well-admired, expects the listener to reach their own conclusion at the end of the melancholy drenched 16-minute EP. However, Raghu further adds, “There are still some overarching themes that I had introduced on Window Lights for Wanderers, that run throughout this EP as well.”

Raghu started working on the EP between June and July of 2017. On his process of how he got about making Dreams of a Thousand Stillness, he says, “I usually work on one song at a time and move on to the next idea when I have something I’m kind of happy with. I’ll start with a basic guitar that I can lay vocals over and build up from there.” He then individually reviews each track and makes any final changes in the mixing.

Raghu used to be one half of the experimentalist duo Rat King, along with Murari Vasudevan, and drummer and vocalist for the Bangalore-base sludge/heavy rock band Shepherd, which disbanded in 2017. Perhaps they helped him deal with the issues he faced making his second EP. Raghu says, “There are always delays. But it wasn’t so bad this time around. But I’m used to much worse delays in the past, especially when I was playing with Shepherd. It was like a curse following us around.”

Raghu says that even though he experienced delays in the artwork of the album (done by American artist Simon Fowler) and his computer crashed during the end of the mixing process, it seems though he has made his peace with it. “[Delays] are something you just get used to in life, in general,” he adds.

The album name is a line from the first song on the album, ‘Square One’, and is aptly represented in the artwork for the album cover. “Simon did a great job pushing the album title across in the artwork. I think that made it all seem premeditated and maybe cohesive in some way,” Raghu says.

For now, Raghu doesn’t plan on playing any live gigs to promote his album. So what next for The Earth Below? “Take some time off social media whoring and catch up on some reading. Maybe find a new hobby,” he says.

Coming back to the reception of the album, Raghu quips “A bad review is always more entertaining and often worth a few more ‘shares’ on social media,” which unfortunately remains true in today’s click-bait culture. However, Raghu has another theory as to why he might not have received a bad review for his album. “A bad review could also mean I’m so fucking groundbreaking, even the folks at Pitchfork haven’t caught up with it yet. No such luck for me so far,” he concludes.