Young people these days will tell you they listen to Sulk Station in their nights of introspection. Their somber songs provide much needed breathing spaces, soundtracks to the slow release of queued thoughts from our hectic day-to-daze.
Sulk Station are a precious Bangalore institution because they are probably the most artistically significant musical act in the country right now: their music is a beautiful, confessional amalgam of classical Indian musical traditions & the contemporary cosmopolitan cutting edge. They take this role very seriously, showering their city and its fledgling musicians with much affection.
Rahul is immaculately up-to-date in his cultivated musical exposure. His dynamic, imaginative production allows him to assimilate the scenes and the sounds into the something wholly new and irresistible that defies classification.
Tanvi’s vocals and unidentifiable laptop tinkering normally take centre-stage at shows. She adds a Hindustani flourish to their songs which seems to appeal to purists and punks alike.
Sulk Station is mature, personal and very emotional. My parents won’t listen to Till You Appear because they don’t think music should be depressing. However, it is testament to the duo’s ability to craft affecting songs that they can provoke such a reaction in otherwise benign people.
It seems impossible not to dote on Rahul and Tanvi. They are earnest musicians with a refreshing sincerity to their approach. A typical Sulk Station show is devoid of showbiz gimmickry: the histrionics are delegated to the music. They paint intimate, candid stories through painstakingly constructed electronic music.
The instrumentation is tight and composed with modernist austerity. Rahul’s hitchcockian mastery of tension is showcased all across the album. As a listener, it took me a while to get used to enjoying the frustration that crescendos right from the start. Piya is the only track on the album where there is a sense of catharsis.
For me, Piya has always been the masterpiece around which their show and album has revolved. I can remember being completely floored by the track a couple of years ago when the album first dropped and unsurprisingly, I believe it is the best example of Rahul & Tanvi’s powers in combination: The results are magical.
Tanvi sings admissions of regret for a past she can’t condone. Her need to confess is constantly struggling against her ego, which "hates to admit". The most awe-inspiring part is the climactic outro where she finally admits in plain words that she has lost the "battle she couldn’t dare to win". The conflict builds into what is effectively a personal apocalypse. When the ultimate admission of defeat eventually comes, it is buried under layer upon layer of soaring synths, almost obfuscating it completely in the process.
It’s quite breathtaking stuff.
There is a palpable sense of ease that the duo exude these days, which makes me wonder how Tanvi manages to continue to sing these aching songs week in and week out.
No one knows quite what to expect from Sulk Station’s impending sophomore release but if they can raise the bar like they did with their debut, you can be sure there will be no complaints.