Past forward

Updated: May 19, 2020, 10:10 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Indie mainstay Peter Cat Recording Co's new album includes rejected songs from earlier projects that suit the times we are living in

Peter Cat Recording Co in a live act
Peter Cat Recording Co in a live act

Last year, on October 19, indie band Peter Cat Recording Co had played a gig at a niche venue in Mahalaxmi that was the sort of live music spectacle that's worth an arm and a leg in today's locked-down age. A black curtain was covering the stage when the audience walked in. It had the word 'Bismillah' written on it in shimmering silver, alluding to the name of the album the act was launching. And when that curtain dropped, the five musicians took their listeners on a twisting sonic journey that kept ringing in their ears long after they had left the building.

Earlier this month, the band dropped a surprise compilation of songs, Happy Holidays. It's nothing like Bismillah. There is none of the grandeur of a sudden horn section or rousing vocals. The album is instead meant for coffee mornings where you brew a mix of nostalgia and isolation in your head; of sitting by a window with that cup, and watching empty streets that once had people on them.

This attempt at introspection is deliberate, says Rohit Gupta, the 10-year-old outfit's keyboardist and trumpet player. He says that when they made Bismillah, the world was so different that they had the conventional idea of a tour in mind, which reflected in the rollercoaster energy of the music. But with Happy Holidays, the band went back to its past. They dug out pieces from their individual hardware and decided on isolation — and even sadness — as cohesive strings to tie them with. Gupta tells us, "We thought it would be fun to have a different soundscape that incorporates our other projects. We wanted to see if we can still relate to our old music."

The result is a compilation that acts as a soundtrack for the thoughts gathering in a person's mind when they are alone at home. Gupta says that the band is now trying to figure out how things will be after the pandemic. "We can't really say much because everything is so uncertain," he tells us, meaning it's anyone's guess when we'll go on the twisting sonic trip of a Peter Cat concert once again. But meanwhile, enjoy their brew of nostalgia and isolation, which are the flavours of the season.

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