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#HauteSounds: This New Rap Rock Release Breaks Boundaries

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If you thought rap rock was just a phase in the early and mid-2000s, when bands ranging from Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park to Crazy Town were churning out chart-topping hits, then you need to meet Akhil Kodamanchili.

He says about his latest EP Sharam Masala, “The main reason it happened was because I wanted to sound like Linkin Park at some point in my life as a musician. On this EP, that’s just the foundation.”

The Bengaluru-based producer, composer, and visual artist, who writes music under the moniker No Hero, came across an interesting performance at an open mic night in Hyderabad a few years ago, and was impressed by rappers Xcpt. (Aishan Vali) and A La Moksh (Sameer Ul Haque) for their free flow in English and Hindi, respectively.

 

Haute Sounds_Sharam Masala_Hauterfly

 

Over six months, No Hero, Xcpt., and A La Moksh created the four-track rap rock collaborative project Sharam Masala. The project also came about because of Akhil’s openness to work with pretty much “anyone who approached me”.

The result is a rap rock record that is, yes, inspired by albums like Linkin Park’s Reanimation, but No Hero ensures there’s more to it than that, all in 12 minutes. There’s a grimy undertone to it all, just as Xcpt. and A La Moksh run through sharp, damning verses that are deliberately abstract, but revolving around the city they live in, from the riff-driven 1point1 to Sights.Sounds.City.

Surprisingly, Akhil’s other major influence showing on the record is pop. He manages to pack in as many layers as possible, saying, “Pop music has so many hidden layers. Every vocal melody has a little layer of harmony going on.”

 

Haute Sounds_Sharam Masala_Hauterfly

 

And then, of course, there’s Akhil’s prog roots, whether it’s spiralling into time signatures on songs like Wabi Sabi and Mined State. The guitarist explains, “I’ve always enjoyed playing with details, using chaos in a more organised way.”

Perhaps the short length of songs also helps keep ears attentive, but Akhil notes that it was just an outcome of wanting to get the songs out of their systems as soon as they could. “We’ll hopefully be better at this the next time around. We wanted to finish it so that we can move to new material,” he says.

While Akhil is open to having Xcpt. and A La Moksh join him on stage for when he takes No Hero live, his own focus now shifts to two solo albums he’s been working on.

“One of them is a more cinematic, prog album, and the other one is more vocally driven and with me going back to my more traditional musician role, playing a lot of keys.”

Listen to Sharam Masala here.

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Anurag is a Bangalore-based music journalist who spends his time looking for great music and rare Pokémon.

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