Mumbai-based singer-songwriter, ruhdabeh, has been a name many years in the making, it would seem. Backed by unforgettable vocals, and a penchant for visual storytelling, the musician has finally made their debut with the EP, of dissonance and peace.
Featuring six tracks, each equally intricate and captivating in their own right, of dissonance and peace proves ruhdabeh’s weight in salt.
The EP opens with the previously released single, ‘we see rainbows’. It’s a track that could easily be an electronica-jazz reinterpretation of a Mary Poppins soundtrack. Right off the bat, ruhdabeh sets the stage for their lyrical prowess, vocal ability and disarming production choices. The track features acoustic melodies, romantic harmonies and an out-of-the-blue but just-right horn section. “So come and sit a while, give me some more time. If you don’t have a plan, just come and hold my hand,” she sings, inviting listeners to explore the rest of this romantic EP.
‘feels like eternity’ comes next, making it obvious that this project is for the dreamers and the hopeful. The pace doesn’t really pick up yet, but ruhdabeh is comfortable with that choice. To the crackle of vinyl and a delicate piano arrangement, she sings, “Moonshine, tell me something I want to hear. Stars shining bright, tell me, has my dear sent a message for me?” The violins in the background amplify the theatrical nature of ruhdabeh’s lyricism.
And just as comforting as ‘feels like eternity’ may be, ‘frangipane rings’, the third song, swiftly disrupts the hypnotic flow, saving the EP from monotony. The fastest song on of dissonance and peace, this one epitomises the artist’s interesting production choices. Using electronic elements for the hook, introducing a floaty string section and playing with pace a bit, the track offers something new, sonically.
‘somehow’ slows things down while simultaneously offering a refreshing vocal arrangement in the bridge. Harmonies and haunting vocals take centre stage on this track.
Fifth in line is ‘of love’, a track that flirts with the synth and a certain electronica feel, adding depth to the EP. While it doesn’t pick up the pace by much, it definitely feels like the most whole song on of dissonance and peace. Lyrically, this one registers as the most mature, exploring the complex and layered theme of not getting the love one may deserve. The refrain, “You give me everything short of love,” perhaps sums up the sentiment behind the song the most succinctly. ‘of love’ is a bold attempt at song making, and a worthy one at that.
‘i’ll be fine’ draws the curtains on of dissonance and peace. It’s perhaps the most self-reflective track on the EP. It strays away from ideas of love and relationships. ruhdabeh’s vocal samples crash into each other before leaving listeners with an evocative instrumental interlude that brings things to a close.
On of dissonance and peace, the musician lends their hand to every aspect of the process—songwriting, production, composition, and more—making the release a real achievement.
At a stretch, of dissonance and peace runs the risk of being monotonous and ruhdabeh’s voice—controlled, able, and beautiful as it is—takes you to the edge but never really goes all the way. But, at ease, the artist’s debut EP is hard to criticise and promises to be a valuable addition to the Indian independent music scene.
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