Lush Techno and Audio-Visual Excellence from BLOT!
Seemingly not content with releasing a killer debut album full of bubbling, refined Berlin grooves, the two members of BLOT! are also helping to take audio-visual performances to the next level, all while effortlessly driving forward Indian electronic music onto the global map, perhaps even leading the field in that particular facet.
With a varied background working in law, visual arts, research and festival organisation, the duo, Gaurav Malaker and Avinash Kumar, have been writing and performing as BLOT! (an acronym for Basic Love Of Things) for several years, but only now felt it was the right time to release their full-length debut, Snafu.
“We started BLOT as individuals who were interested in sound, film, art and the interaction between them”, says Malaker. “It was important to us that our first album be a collection of music that we’d listen to ourselves… To be honest, there was a gap between my sensibilities as a listener and my skills as a producer. Four years in, I think I’ve managed to make stuff that I’d happily mix into my own DJ sets.”
And so he should. Snafu is a highly accomplished debut, flowing from crisp and minimal to melodic and bouncy, and always with an intelligently danceable ethos. Malaker describes the album as “a mix of future pop sounds, techno (of course) some lo-fi and chill out electronica. I was enjoying all the kinds of sounds, styles and arrangements; then halfway through I realized that the best direction towards making an album, for me, was to have no direction, which is how it turned into such a genre-blender.”
Currently based in New Delhi, BLOT! are certainly one of the most forward-thinking and progressive acts in the contemporary Indian electronic scene, and though Snafu isn’t overtly influenced by Indian culture, per se (with no prior knowledge of BLOT! you’d be hard pressed to guess which country it was produced in), there are some subtle, sophisticated nods to the music and culture of their country weaved in. “We’re obviously all a product of our collective influences, so it can’t help but be present in our work, as an extension of our identities”, say the duo.
BLOT! also point out that the scene for underground electronic music in India is growing, with people wanting more than just mainstream offerings, and seeking out different sounds. “I think Delhi, as it stands currently, might be the best city for music and all sorts of emerging culture and it has only just begun”, says Malaker. “This is probably the only instance when our billion strong population works in our favor. With the way I see it even if a tiny fraction of this number is interested in electronic dance music we’re good for decades.”
One way in which BLOT! have helped to push forward electronic music and wider cultural events within India is through their outstanding audio-visual work and performances, including collecting footage from all walks of life around Mumbai and later projecting the footage onto buildings across the city, and helping to organise the India Goes 3D festival earlier this year. But the duo are aiming far higher than merely projecting a few trippy patterns onto a screen behind them.
“My methods are diverse and cover the spectrum from sampling of obscure content to creating digital works,” says Kumar, who handles the visual elements of BLOT!, “and in the middle I find myself often doing stop motion animation, cut up montages, some motion graphics and regular video too. Of course, with VJing, producing video content is only half the job done; the remaining content is defined by the situation, set-up, projection surfaces and other stuff we can do as part of live visual programming. My inspirations are varied and keep changing, though right now I am fascinated by grotesque art, space travel, botany and 3D design tools.”
As with every element of their work, there is genuine vision at play here, and it will be fascinating to see where that vision takes the duo.
Snafu is out now.