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Review

New Fusion Movements by Okedo & Pluto Monkey

As a musician, the joy of jamming is unparalleled. The initial excitement of new ideas colliding with each other, the sustained trust in each other to work through the moments when it sounds like absolute chaos, the energy exchange when everything flows, the reminiscing when the jam is over and you listen to what happened with new ears – everything about a jam is what makes humans thrive. In modern music-making, sometimes the pursuit of a pre-decided sound, the joy of the jam falls by the wayside. But when we find it again, it can lead to magic. 

Magic is what happened when two talented Delhi-based producers Okedo & Pluto Monkey, jammed with no particular goal, at least to begin with. What came out of it was ‘New Fusion Movements’, an EP that is the product of two lonely, strange, introverted, broke, average-looking, lazy (their words, not mine), multi-instrumentalists getting together and jamming with the limited set of tools and skills they possess to give India what it needs the most – live dance music.

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The EP opens with ‘Exploration’, an intro into the loop-based and synth-wave sound that is prominent throughout the EP. The gentle sounds of water behind the spoken word are a throwback to the popular Porter Robinson track, Shelter, but very different from it. The next track, ‘Prayer for a Simple Time’, is one of those dance tracks that will make you want to play it first thing in the morning and dance all the boohoos out. 

The third track on the EP, ‘Odd Body Rhythms’, showcases the artists’ skills with balancing beats with a melody & bass. Going off the standard beat patterns, this track sounds spastic at first, till you catch hold of the loops and begin flowing with it. ‘Work the Experience’ is a synth-driven, dance track with a lead that takes you on a journey through moods and feelings. 

It is a testament to their skills as musicians that within just a couple of Sunday jams they embarked on a journey, deep into the subconscious, to manifest a mix of colorful rhythms, catchy samples, and harmonious resonances, giving birth to a record of their lifetime. 

The penultimate track, ‘Dr Gnarly’, breaks from the dance synth feel of the rest of the EP and takes on more of a dub, reggae avatar but still with chaotic beats. The last track, ‘In Ur Eyez?’ feat. Rounak Maiti,  rounds off the EP nicely with a hard drum beat set against Rounak’s soulful voice and loopy chords. 

When we asked Ishaan about the process of collaboration, we discovered how spontaneously the EP grew from their jams. 

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The following answers have been edited for readability

1. How did the decision for the both of you to work together come about? Is there a reason you chose to make dance music? 

Antriksh and I actually know each other from back in the day when I used to play drums for Dhruv Visvanath, so we knew each other and followed each other’s music online. I think it started when Antu started putting out some snippets of his music on Instagram which were absolute bangers – I slid into his DMs and the rest is history. 

In terms of the music, there’s a mix of a bunch of things in this EP – from hip hop on ‘Dr Gnarly’ to UKG sounds on ‘In Ur Eyez?’ to afro-cuban inspirations on ‘Odd Body Rhythms’. I think our process of making music was unique, we both showed up with little ideas when we first met, literally just set up the mics for my drums, connected my sampler & his synths, and started jamming to those ideas. Everything was recorded, looped, overdubbed, and sampled in real-time so that we don’t spend too much time caught up with the little intricacies – we wanted to commit to our first thoughts, something we don’t do too often when we make music by ourselves. Both of us listen to different types of music but I think our love for live dance music really brought us together, maybe that’s why you hear the dance-yness.

2. What did the collaborative process look like? 

I think I covered that in the first question as well, but just to add to what I said before – all the music stemmed out of little ideas we prepared before our jams. Both of us are producers, but both of us come from instrumentalist backgrounds, so for us it’s a lot more natural to play/sample/loop something and then just actually play along to it and search for ideas. Luckily we remembered to hit record before we started jamming!

3. Are there any plans for the two of you to play together live or release more work?

Plans are there, yes, but executing this live requires a little bit (actually a lot) of time and effort so we’re just waiting for the right opportunity. Playing this (and all the ideas we didn’t release) is a priority over releasing more work. Antu is a part-time musician and works a day job, and now I’m transitioning into a similar setup to keep paying the bills, so unfortunately the live set prep has lost a bit of momentum, but hopefully very very soon.

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