TRACK REVIEW: Alluri – Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake)

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Alluri

 

 Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument and night

 

Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake)

 

9.2/10

 

 

 

Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVKabVJElp8&feature=youtu.be

GENRE:

Indie

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

RELEASE DATE:

2nd November 2016

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IT is not often I get to review an artist who…

creates something truly universal – singing in another language and offering the listener a glimpse into a rather exotic and different world. Before I come to that (and my featured artist) I wanted to talk about different cultures and travel – and how that can inspire music – in addition to solo artists sourcing from different decades and genres. I will finish by having a look at the different ways songwriters are projecting love and documenting relationship breakdown. One thing that excited me about discovering new music is the places I get to ‘visit’. Although Alluri is based in London, his Indian heritage directly feeds into his music. It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a foreign songwriter so this will be quite interesting. It can be argued how much of one’s culture goes into music – how much of it is enforced by commercial ideals and pressures. I see a lot of artists writing about home and sourcing inspiration from where they live. That not only makes music more personal and flexible: you get a real sense of who the musician is and where they come from. When I’ve reviewed artists from around the world, with each, I get a striking blend of national identity and familiarity. I hate artists that replicate others and simply do what everyone has done before. It is so lamentable and means music becomes over-stuffed with generic and formulaic songs. When you come across a foreign artist; there is instantly something unexpected and curious. In the past few months/year, I have looked at acts like Vanessa Forero – who has Colombian heritage and uses native instruments in her work – in addition to Mexico’s The Peppersplum. With each, I was treated to some ‘mainstream’/everyday sounds but got a real taste of where they came from and the environment they grew up in. That was most striking and pure with Forero – who champions the use of odd and strange woodwind in her music.

She takes from her Colombian lineage and introduces the listener to the kind of instruments she heard as a girl. That can seem like a risky venture in music. If you subject the listener to something rather strange then that runs the risk of them looking elsewhere. One would feel, when hearing about Colombian pipes and instruments, there was a touch of World music about things – a genre that has always struggled for acceptance. True, there was an element of that but you got Pop, Soul and Indie within her music: every track has a different skin and only employed Colombian instruments as a backdrop and emphasis. Hyderabad is the capital of southern India’s Telangaa state. It is one of the most upscale providences of India and houses the technological hub that drives the nation. In addition, it boasts many upscale shops and restaurants; historical sites such as Colconda Fort and a sixteenth-century mosque. Although around thirteen-percentage of the metropolitan area are composed of slums – those living well below the poverty line – Hyderabad has a rich and mixed musical scene. Dances like Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam styles are popular (in Decca especially). Western and Indian popular music are favoured in addition to Filmi music – all of the historical, cultural and cosmopolitan blends would have inspired the young Alluri. Before I continue my points, let me introduce him to you:

Born and raised in Hyderabad, London based Alluri’s latest cut Evari Kosam (For Who’s Sake) is a flawless demonstration of how the music world is a truly universal sphere, which exists only in the cultural blend that shapes its very existence.  

After digesting a diet of classical music as an early teen, an impressionable Alluri’s real music education began after he was gifted a guitar. Immersing himself an artist at a time, he learnt the guitar through the versatile catalogue of British indie of the 80s very finest. With Morrissey proving an overriding influence, it was his introduction to artists like The Doves on his relocation to the UK to study that really fuelled the singer/songwriter within.

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A diarist to his core, Alluri’s songs wrote themselves during a six month travel break between completing his Masters in Finland and returning home to India. Contemplating a return to the setting that shaped him, travelling allowed him to assess how he had changed, provoking the realisation that in London he had been something of an outsider in cultural terms, while simultaneously feeling fully at home in aspects of British life.

Sung in Telugu while boasting a vintage, British sound, Alluri’s Evari Kosam (For Who’s Sake) is the culmination of his journey to date. The original demo was immediately picked up by legendary producers Tommasso Colliva & Massimo Martelotta (Muse).. With Telugu being so similar to Italian, Tommaso instantly bonded with the track, infusing his polished production style with Alluri’s raw songwriting talent. The new single represents a sonic shift in Alluri’s sound, employing an anthemic brass section & piano textures to enchanting effect. The haunting visual, is the brainchild of Indian director Reema Sengupta, Who says: 

“I wanted to make an awkward mood-piece of a lonely young man reeling from a break-up; and the sleeplessness, binge-eating and self-doubt that come with it. The protagonist sits in his own mindspace, littered with the little things he is holding on to – remnants of an ended but far-from-forgotten relationship.”

I love that idea of ‘Indian Indie’ as a concept in music. I have reviewed an Indian artist before (Antriksh Bali) who hails from Delhi. Coming from a different region of India, it is interesting seeing how someone like Alluri differs. I do love to mention influences and inspirations as a way of explaining a musician. In terms of Alluri, you get that distinct flavour of home with a mix of more universal artists. In various songs, you hear acts like Pink Floyd and Doves and get a sense of what influenced the young man. Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is performed in (Alluri’s) native tongue, Teluga. I admire an artist who retains their national identity but mixes that with other sounds. In the case of Alluri; he is influenced by British music and a range of different acts. I mentioned Doves as one source of inspiration. Those ‘90s/’00s Indie acts are big in his mind. The way Doves could project epic soundscapes and sheer intimacy within the space of a single song is something that has compelled Alluri. So too are the older gods such as Pink Floyd whose experimentation and tripped-out corners have oozed their way into Alluri’s sonic palette.

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What I love about Alluri’s songwriting is the fact he does not shy away from recognising where came from. Vanessa Forero, whom I mentioned earlier, sings songs in Spanish and is keen to recognise where she came from and who she is. Alluri does not completely fill his music with Western sounds and try to fit into the pack too obediently. That would be quite a worry were that the case. So many musicians are moulded into something chart-ready and commercial – it means you get a mass of musicians who are following directives and making the most consumable music possible. The bold and brave artists are those that take risks and remain loyal to their instincts. It would be understandable was Alluri to produce a modern-day version of the bands/acts he grew up listening to. If you make music in the U.K., it can be challenging deciphering what the people want and whether certain sounds will be accepted. Fortunately, the people are responding to Alluri’s music with gusto and taking it to heart. It is some of the most fascinating and genre-less as you are likely to imagine. I mentioned how it was ‘Indian Indie’ but that would do it a disservice. It is much richer and more intriguing than that: a blend of Eastern wisdom and sounds together with a more familiar Western vibe. Every review I tackle I am looking at a musician’s influences and seeing whether they come into their own music forcefully. We all have those acts that really compel us but, if you are a musician, you have to be quite subtle when it comes to incorporating that into songs. Alluri has that distinctive British sound but ensures Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) cannot be compared with any other song. It is a fascinating piece that has already received impassioned reviews and got to the ears of the biggest tastemakers in the U.K.

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Before I come to look at the song itself – and the back catalogue of Alluri – I want to talk about love as an influence and the ways in which it is represented. I have heard so many songs that investigate break-ups and heartache but do so in such an insipid way. When I hear Alluri’s music and look at his past; you get a sense of a young man who has felt the sting of betrayal but eager to document that without falling into clichés. Many artists simply follow tropes and fill the songs with lazy lines and some rather uninspired sentiments. That can put off many people and is something we want to see less of. Sure, love is an important concern but it is the most common one in music. If everyone is writing about it that means it becomes harder and harder providing original aperture and revelation. Alluri has looked at love in his repertoire but never sounds like he is following others or reading from a manual. You get words from the heart together with some very deep language and well-crafted lines. Hats go off to him, but in a larger sense, it is his music and personality that really get to me. He has that Indian heritage but is based out of London. The young musician has soaked up all the capital has to offer but ensures the music keeps his home and heart strong and undiluted. He is a man who has a strong personality and resolve but has that tender and venerable side. All of this comes through in music but it is the compositional experimentation that elevates things above the regular and routine. Splicing together Eastern sounds (from southern India) together with British suggestions is a rather tasty and spicy treat. I would expect Alluri to keep recording and producing music for many years to come. His current single proves he is one of the most promising artists around. Those that create something genuinely new and original are to be commended – it becomes harder as time elapses. When you have that ‘genre-less’ sound already established, it means critics and listeners are going to be hooked and fascinated. I cannot wait to see where Alluri goes and just how far he can take his music.

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I will investigate Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake), but before then, I shall have a quick look at Alluri’s back catalogue and how it compares. It’s With You is taken from the Who Are We? E.P. and looks at a beast being woken. Whether looking at love or a new bond, all the dreams (of a heroine I assume) have entered the hero’s world. There is that immediacy and drive throughout the song. This is evident in the composition which pairs hard-hitting, punchy percussion with twirling guitar notes and a distinct skip in the step. It is an implacable song that fights for submission and love. The girl is maybe unwilling to give herself fully to our man but he will not rest. That determination is underpinned by a composition that remains spirited and rich throughout. It is a fantastic song that gets into the head for a number of different reasons. The composition alone has enough energy and catchiness to captivate every listener whilst the lyrics talk of a man who is trying to make things happen and fighting against a sense of reluctant perhaps. This Life has a 1990s feel and a sense of fear running through. Alluri knows there is hate and uncertainty in the world and paints a very realistic picture. What you get from the song is hopefulness and a need to stand together. It has that Oasis-like anthemia swagger with a touch of The Beatles perhaps. Those snarly and electric guitar lines recall the 1990s legends whereas the abiding messages look back at the ’60s and a need to join together and stand tall.

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The entire Who Are We? E.P. has a defiance and fantastically rousing sound – this comes through clearly in This Life. It is not quite as instant and immediate as It’s With You but it (This Life) has a fantastic chorus which sticks in the mind for ages. It is a more slow-burning song that reveals new ideas and pleasure across time. Even though it is a three-track E.P., there is so much ground covered. A fantastic accomplishment that has that very British sound to it. Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) retains the British sensibilities but changes its themes somewhat. There were some negatives and relegation on the E.P. but that need for betterment and improvement comes through. The latest track is more reflective and down but there is still room for light and life. The biggest change – from the E.P. to Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) – is the sounds and lyrics. Alluri brings more Indian sounds to his current song and shows he is always adapting and keeping fresh. If he were to pen another Who Are We? song then that would be troubling. What we get is a natural development but retention of that established sound. The fantastic guitars and percussion notes are there together with the assured and defined vocal. Bringing in a different language can be risky – and maybe seem strange to new listeners – but you get such an accessibility from Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) few will walk past. It is a song that gets into the mind and compels you to listen time again.

Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) spares no times with handshakes and awkward introductions. From the opening notes, you are straight into the song. The vocal comes in very quickly and is backed by a rather delicate piano sound. Unlike the E.P. – which was more bombastic and Rock-based – here there is more demure and calm. Our hero sees a girl is coming home but questions whether she has come back for him. “You smile like a machine” (translated) is a line that suggests her heart is not in things. Having left work and home – coming back somewhere she once called home perhaps – there is not the sort of warmth and happiness one would expect. Maybe rekindling a romance or seeing a former sweetheart is too painful. Dredging up those memories has caused a rather awkward situation to become palatable. The silences and smiles seem like the natural reaction given the situation. Maybe there was love but things became too hard to continue. The hero is examining every side and wondering why the girl is here. Before you settle into the comfort of piano and soft vocals, you get a blast of horns and an accelerated tempo. It is magisterial and regal; the drums roll and the brass reaches the sky. Juxtaposing a rather nervy and tense session of reflection; the composition acts like sunshine and support. It gives the song its much-needed sense of safety and provides positivity. Given the gravitas and seriousness of the words, one would need something to balance that out. Luckily, the music provides that and is a rather unexpected treat. Alluri is just a speck in the girl’s eye – maybe she does not even think about him. Conversely, our man cannot stop thinking about her. She infests his waking life and infuses his dreams without any consideration. It is the imbalance and tension that comes through sternly in the vocal. You can hear that emotion and fatigue; the need for answers and that desire to rekindle things. Maybe mistakes were made but there is a real desire to get back to better times.

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After the first verse, we get some wordless chanting (from the hero) and a continuation of the composition. Those horns seem warmer and more enriching. Like someone walking into the sun – seeking some nourishment and truth – it is a blissful, candid sound. You get immersed in the notes and swim in its mix of caramel-smooth romance and tender kiss. It is an austere sound too and one which prompts reflection and self-assessment. The hero is pacing the room and seems lost at the moment. With hissing percussion and relentlessly rousing brass, it is as though this is a vital punctuation. In the song’s video, the hero is putting on a bow-tie and there is a drink with two straws. It seems like an important date beginning or a chance to broker some sense of reconciliation. In scenes of binge-eating and sullen expression, the lyrics talk of the hero becoming a “mobile kitchen”. He is getting into a state and cannot overcome the memories of the girl. This excessive eating is down to the girl: he cannot forget what they have together and how things ending. Rather than move on, he is self-destructing to an extent and trying to find answers in food. This idea of the other half moving on is enforced. She might be eating out and enjoying the company of another man whilst this man stays home alone and has only himself for company. He wonders whether she thinks of him and whether there is any memory she holds dear. You can hear the tears being fought but there is a slight hopefulness in the voice. Maybe not prepared to give up the fight, Alluri is remembering all the good times that came before. You get a sense of Doves’ 2002 album The Last Broadcast in some aspects. The horns remind me of the Cheshire band. The way they climb and fly brings light and physicality to the song. It is one of the most addictive and standout parts of the song. The notes intertwine and swoon; they strike with the percussion and stand alone, proudly. Few artists have the confidence to step away from vocal and lyrics for so long and let the music campaign. Such is the ability of Alluri, you have a song that says what it needs to in a short matter of time and then lets the music expand that point. Here, Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is defined by its blunt and heart-aching thoughts and sumptuous composition.

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Alluri is a slave and someone who is held captive by these thoughts and pain. The girl is not thinking of him the way she should and that is causing stress. Spring will arrive, as it is said, when she looks at him and provides a human touch. The final seconds keep the composition going and offer chants and exclamation from the hero. It is fascinating seeing how Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) develops and changes as it reaches the end. The song’s first half presents the lyrics and the pain Alluri feels. The second deals more with the music and expanding on those thoughts. The music is the extension of the lyrics and provides a new way of explaining the deep emotions and regrets the hero feels. Maybe the lyrics (and translation) may not instantly hit everyone but will become clearer and affective when you play the song more. Although some of the translations are not perfect; you get a real sense of what is being sung and the feelings portrayed. Alluri has gone through a painful split but wants answers. Whether he got them I am not sure but hope he did. Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is clearly painful from Alluri’s perspective but is fascinating from the listener’s viewpoint.

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I have talked about various different themes – and how they relate to Alluri – and will return to those in the conclusion. I want to look at Alluri and where he might head in 2017. Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is released on Killing Moon and was picked up by legendary Muse producer, Tommasso Colliva. Those names alone suggest the music is rather stealthy and exceptional. The likes of Colliva would not pick up a song that was anything less than inspiring and awesome. Luckily, Alluri has crafted something wondrous and thought-provoking. Talking about the song, Alluri assessed it in these terms:

I wanted to make an awkward mood-piece of a lonely young man reeling from a break-up; and the sleeplessness, binge-eating and self-doubt that come with it. The protagonist sits in his own mindspace, littered with the little things he is holding on to – remnants of an ended but far-from-forgotten relationship.”

That synopsis might sound off-putting and odd but it is one of the most honest and real representations of love you can imagine. Many songwriters, when looking at break-up couch it in oblique sentiments and ambiguity. You get quasi-poetic expressions and stereotypical couplets. Essentially, real emotions and feelings are buried in digestible soundbites and made-for-radio quotations. Alluri has no such desires (to follow the herd in such an obvious way) and creates a song that is real and naked. We can all relate to the self-destructive nature of the protagonist. It is such an evocative and tense piece but has enough light and accessibility so it does not scare listeners off. Alluri is, essentially, a diarist and documents his trials and tribulations on a regular basis. When coming to London, Alluri felt like an outsider and has to assimilate into a new nation. That can be hard for the best of us but for a musician, it can be even more difficult.

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Not only do you have to adjust in terms of language and culture but you have to sell your music to a foreign audience. Things are different here (compared with India) so it has been a tough right-of-passage. Luckily, Alluri has had the opportunity to go back home and been touring around India. The raw expression and polished sound of his latest single is the bond of a fantastic Indian songwriter and a well-heeled, expert producer. I hope Alluri spends a lot more time in the U.K. as there is a lot for him to learn. In that, I mean there’s a wealth of venues to tour and stations to crack. I could see his music appearing on a station like ‘6 Music who always take risks and are one of the most wide-ranging and multi-cultural stations in the world. Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is a gorgeous and memorable song that deals with some tough times. The fact Alluri sings in his native tongue means it is much more personal and distinct than you’d imagine. That is a good thing and means there is going to be that demand out there. Where he goes from here will be interesting. Following his Who Are We? E.P., I guess it may be a little while before a new one is released. Maybe he will be thinking of an album but I do not want to put ideas into his head. Whatever is planned it will be great seeing a singular young artist take flight and make his next move. So far, he has settled in London but has that huge support back home. I am always searching for artists that have that special something about them: with Alluri, you get that in spades! He is going to keep on recording music and surely looking for gigs around the country. I have mentioned Vanessa Forero a lot: someone who has a similar discipline and approach to music and been getting gigs around the U.K. I hope Alluri looks beyond London and gets his music out there. I know there will be cities and towns who will welcome him in and provide a keen ear. That is going to be in the future, but for now, Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake) is where he is and what he is about.

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I’ll end by revisiting my themes of national/international mixtures and influences; take a quick peek back at new and interesting ways of portraying love. Alluri has a population of nearly seven-million (a metropolitan population even larger) and is the sixth most-populous urban agglomeration in India. It where Alluri comes from and inspires his music and voice. Having kept that identity and heritage in his current song – choosing to sing Telugu and proud – it means you get a real and vibrant sound of India coming out. I have always yearned to make my blog more international and take in more foreign artists. A lot of the time, I get to here British artists, and whilst that is great, I am denying myself a large part of the world. I do not get to hear too many Indian-based musicians so it has been a treat getting to hear Alluri. His upbringing and tongue can be heard all over his current single. It has got me interested in India as a nation and what other artists are playing there. As I stated earlier, this is only the second time I have reviewed an Indian act. Maybe there are not that many indigenous artists or those that have that Western, British sound. Sure, there will be a lot of Indian acts in a very traditional sense. How well they could ever translate beyond the country’s borders is a gamble. It is heartening discovering a young man who does not abandon his roots to fit into the British music scene. He grew up, like a lot of people in India, with those British acts and classic legends. From ‘00s Indie to ‘70s Prog.-Rock; the young man was treated to a real spread of sounds and veritable banquet of possibilities. I guess that is one negative of Britain. We do not really have a ‘native’ or traditional sound like India. In terms of instrumentations and genres, there is nothing distinctly British. With India, you have that different languages and dialects but a national sound that is very much their own – the U.K. has to make do with mongrel sounds and universal genres. Alluri brings the spice, sentiments and sensations of India into a less romantic (but more commercial) British template.

Let’s round this up by taking a look at influences and giving relationship breakup a new perspective. Alluri has mentioned Doves as an influence which is something you do not often see. Perhaps not a big takeaway from Evari Kosam (For Whose Sake), you do get embers of the sadly-rested northern band in the song. The way instruments represent emotions; the sweeping score and direct, earnest vocals can be applied to both Alluri and Doves. Aside from that band, it is clear the London-based musician had a childhood filled with some truly exceptional music. I hear too many new musicians take inspiration from the same acts. It means, when they head into music, you have a mass of artists all saying the same thing and sounding very similar. It also means you have less distinction and, if you are one of those acts, are going to have a very difficult life – perhaps not survive as long as a truly original act. Alluri realises this and is not going to make the mistakes many others have. You get Indian influences but not so many it pushes listeners away or is too divisive. Likewise, when employing British influence, there are not too many obvious examples. Together, you get a song/artist that has the capacity to remain for a long time and bring his very special sound to the masses. I cannot wait to see if Alluri tours widely this year or has any more music left in his locker. Already catching the eye of some big magazines/websites; that will be very pleasing to someone keen to play music for as long as possible. The reason he is remaining in the critical consciousness is because of the unique way common issues are addressed. Not only do you have that flavoursome, multi-cultural sound but words that give a new angle to a commonplace concern. We have all been, in some form, victim to love and the cruel heart is possesses. Whether that is unrequited yearning or a full-on break-up – we have all been through the mill at least once. Alluri takes the muse and does not apply the same shades as everyone else. You get a very personal and uncommon experience in his music. It is as though the music has been ripped from a diary – such is the language and vivid expressions. There is something very human and unambiguous about the music. Many artists cram their heartbroken mandates with clichés and really boring lines. It might sound cruel but if you are going to tackle something as every day and over-familiar as heartbreak then make sure you provide a new slant on the issue. With Alluri, you have a man who brings such vibrancy, fascination and personality into his music. Many have tried to be as daring and unique as Alluri (but failed). He is very much…

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THE real deal.

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Follow Alluri

Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and guitar 

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