Tags: New Music
Peter Cat Recording Co.’s (PCRC) new album, Bismillah, is meant to be heard in high definition. From the grand gestures of trumpets and keys to the subtle electronics and sound bites knitted into their music, the true intricacy to their sound can only be captured in HD.
The chirping birds, distant car horns, and synthesized sounds of the first track, “Where the Money Flows,” transport you to somewhere in-between a sunlit park and the smoky ambience of an obscure underground music venue.
The magic of Bismillah is that it elicits ambiguity — feelings and sounds that should not belong together, yet somehow do. Melancholy seeps into jazzy dance and just as smoothly climbs into stretched synths. The constant shifts in speed, rhythm, and sound makes this album feel like a play on time; listening is like bending into a dream.
But Swahney, himself, has stated, escapism isn’t PCRC’s only aim. In May, they released the music video for “Where the Money Flows”, with the caption “Vote for Aam Aadmi Party” (Common Man’s Party). A real clip of Narendra Modi’s speech on demonetization interrupts an otherwise otherworldly visual experience. With a blatant critique of Modi’s policies, it is clear PCRC is not afraid to enter a political dialogue.
At times dreamy and sad, at times lazy and sweet, Bismillah is an album that moves you. It calls you to remember, to dance, to dream, sometimes all within one song. Following a pattern of weaving sounds of their everyday into their music, the second track, “Floated By,” begins with sound bites of conversation and laughter majestically flanked by trumpets. Sawhney sings, “Time just floated by/ Where I wanna know/ Right between these eyes is how I wanna go” as the music video for the track opens onto his actual wedding. This intimacy is a hallmark of their music.
The album finds a way to sing sadness and regret into upbeat dance tracks that feel like survival. “Freezing” and “Heera” are the anthems of a generation plagued by disappointment and disillusionment. “I’m This” grapples with questions of love, identity, and self-acceptance: “Somehow the pain catches on/ I worship the weight/ And turn it into a song/And who I am/ Is not measured by/ What I’ve become.”
This album is a culmination of their journey together as a band and as people. The final track, “Shit I’m Dreaming,” is a last reflection, an ode to who they were and who they will become. In the end, PCRC leaves us in ambiguity; Bismillah is an ending and a beginning.