Vivek Venugopal, Magdalena Sas and Shantanu Patel (l to r)

Listen: Guitarist-composer Visita’s classical turn on hopeful new song ‘Will You Complete Me?’

How does it happen that you start out as a fingerstyle guitarist making tranquil, meditative music but then completely turn your sound around to not include a single guitar note? Hyderabad-based composer and guitarist Vivek Venugopal aka Visita says he can now compose for any instrument.

Started in 2014 as an acoustic project, Visita has now completed the second instalment of his two-part EP Chronicles. Releasing in full on January 3rd, Chronicles: Resolution follows Chronicles: Consolation, which was out in July this year, showcasing a piano-based, almost Western Classical sound featuring pianists Shantanu Patel and Mitali Saraf. Venugopal says about his choice of a piano as a starting point, “The piano is universal, and it is a great starting point for any musical idea. Sometimes I’d play something on the guitar and hum something over it and I would then arrange everything for different instruments. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m truly loving the process of writing for various instruments.”

Patel also performs on the first song released off Chronicles: Resolution, called ‘Will You Complete Me?’ Based on the concept of a “significant past occurrence” and coming to terms with it, Venugopal says it’s not his intention to imprint a very specific storyline or idea. “The intention is to give the listeners some additional narrative to juxtapose the music with,” he says.

Featuring an ascending piano riff set to stirring violoncello from Poland artist Magdalena Sas, who has previously worked with Indian classical artists such as Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia. Venugopal says about working with Sas, “She’s a phenomenal musician, and she brought a lot to the piece. Shantanu too executed the parts with great finesse and musicality, and they communicated very well, even though they met for the first time just an hour before the recording.”

Compared to his 2015 debut album Musings, Visita’s music has had the same intentions even now, just with different instrumentation. The difference now is that he’s influenced by “several music traditions from across the world.” The composer explains, “With Musings, I wanted to ‘prove’ to people that I can play and make music, for whatever reason. Now, I just make music. The music is more in the realm of Western Classical now, but my love for Jazz and Ethnic flavours keep pervading in various ways, almost unconsciously.” The rest of the four-track Chronicles: Resolution EP features drums, duduk and even trumpet, expanding the sonic palette.

Up next in the evolution of Visita is the inclusion of vocals, but not necessarily with lyrics. “My next release is called An Ode to the Morphing Muse, and it’s a single piece lasting about 25 minutes in four movements,” Venugopal says. In addition to featuring guitars, there’s vocalists Salome Rebello and Anusha R, plus pianist Jay Parte, and cellist Kritskaya Tatiana. “This should be ready by March 2020, at the max,” Venugopal says.

Chronicles: Resolution releases on January 10th, 2020 on streaming platforms.

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