Listening Session: Runt – Rhymes With

Mumbai based singer and guitar player Siddharth Basrur has been a busy man over the past year. Basrur has had time to record vocals for songs for Hindi films, sung for ad films, toured with his bands Last Remaining Light and Goddess Gagged, and now has put out an EP of music through his solo project, Runt. Basrur took up guitar, bass and vocal duties for this project, with drums tracked by drummer Aditya Ashok. The album was released digitally through iTunes and Google Play on June 5.

Speaking about the name Basrur says, “When I was a kid, I was physically a runt; tiny, scrawny, underweight, and never really good at anything. But the runt of a litter is often the underdog, and eventually, I overcame my obstacles. Also, the sound of Runt is not a small sound, and it’s very different from the solo stuff I’ve released earlier.”

The album was a year in the works and Basrur says he began writing material for the release two years ago. “It began as just guitar ideas that I kept recording, and eventually I started developing the ideas, turning them into instrumental tracks. Vocals came right at the end.”

Basrur didn’t consider taking these ideas to his other band Last Remaining Light because he wanted to challenge to himself. “I decided to to do this on my own, for myself, in my own time, and that’s the same reason I didn’t involve any other musicians during the writing/recording process. I’d been working on my skills as a guitarist and bassist for a couple of years, so I thought this would be a good way to prove something to myself,” the musician says.

The album, comprising of five songs running at just under 17 minutes, stays rooted in alternative rock of the 90s but also has sounds from from shoegaze and britpop bands. Speaking of his influences, Basrur says, “I’m a 90s kid; that’s when I grew up and opened my ears to alternative rock. That’s also about the time I really started wanting to be in a band.” The music on the album has an uplifting vibe, with subjects dealing with dependency to impatience and acceptance.

The album was mostly recorded at home by the singer-songwriter, with mixing and mastering done by Adhiraj Singh of Refractor Audio in Pune. The album features crisp guitar sounds and punchy drums with adequate importance given to guitar effects and ambience.

When asked if there are any plans to form a band and play these songs live, Basrur says, “There are no immediate plans, but I am working on putting a band together, and really want to play this material on stage. However, Last Remaining Light may just play a couple of tracks from ‘Rhymes With’ in the future.”

[Stream/download ‘Rhymes With’ from iTunes or Google Play Music here]

What was your favorite song from ‘Rhymes With’? Let us know in the comments below.

Listening Session Music

Listening Session: Cowboy And Sailor Man – Closet Dancer

Mr Tailor came to both cowboy and sailor man/He brought cowboy hat for sailor man” is the lyric on American punk/pop group Deerhoof’s song ‘My Purple Past’, which is what inspired Mumbai based multi-instrumentalist Apurv Agarwal’s solo project’s moniker. Cowboy and Sailor Man came about in 2013, while Agarwal was studying music at the McNally Smith College in the US. His debut EP, ‘Closet Dancer’ was released as a pay-what-you-want download on May 12.

Listening Session Music

Guide to Dual Overdrive/Distortions – Part 1

Introduction

So, two distortion/overdrive/dirt pedals in one box? Why would you want that? Or why would you use more than one overdrive or gain pedal in your signal chain? Well, players often like to stack (stack = connect in series) more than one gain pedals for their own reasons. Some players like to start with a basic clean tone on their amp (with or without slight breakup), and then use pedals to add different levels of gain onto the signal. Others may use some breakup from the amp, and use a boost and/or an overdrive to further push the amp into grittier territories. And there are also those who use drive pedals to add multiple channels to a single channel amp.

Gain staging is important to get the right amount of signal into the front-end of your amp. There are various ways to go about it. For instance, a clean boost into a driven amp can be used to get a volume boost and more sustain for solos or chorus sections of songs. A compressor pedal can be used to achieve the same effect. You could use a Tubescreamer type overdrive to add saturation to an already compressed amp. Or you can use a distortion pedal like the Suhr Riot to get a higher gain tone from a clean amp.

How a dual overdrive can be used in such situations – a. it removes the need to have two separate units on your board, and b. the different circuits of a dual overdrive can lead to a complex gain tone when cascaded (i.e. connected in series). Also, because both circuits are in the same box, it also eliminates the need for an extra patch cable and power supply or battery. Some pedals even include separate inputs and outputs for each side of the pedal for flexibility.

Now, there are numerous overdrive/distortion pedals out there with a built-in boost circuit. These pedals usually have one main drive pedal side, and an additional boost circuit. This guide is not about that. We chose to write only about pedals that have two discrete drive circuits. Pedals with just a boost circuit were not included in this list.

Here’s the first part of the list (in alphabetical order) :

Tech

Listening Session: Shoals – ‘Mad Turf’

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Delhi based studio project Shoals, comprising of Utkarsh Varma and Sidharth Gupta, list Steven Wilson, Massive Attack, hip-hop DJ Kaytranda and oddly, Ancient Aliens (which is a History Channel series), as their influences. But the duo draws inspiration from a wider palette of alternative sounds and styles like post-rock, electronica, and trip-hop for their debut EP, ‘Mad Turf’. Recorded and produced entirely at home, the EP was released on April 13 through Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download.

Listening Session Music

Electric Talk 1 – Sunil Shinde

What happens when your cherished stringed instrument breaks down, or needs to be serviced? Or what if you wanted your dream guitar to be made from scratch? Enter Sunil Shinde. Shinde is a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments), guitar technician, and proprietor of S.S. Custom Instruments. Affectionately called the guitar doctor, Shinde has been working on instruments for two decades is the go-to-guy for all kinds of repairs. He takes on various guitar repair related tasks, like servicing, parts replacement, modifying, restoring, and refinishing instruments.

We had a chat with him at his new workshop in Charkop about the history of his work, his experience working on a wide variety of instruments, and his bespoke instruments.

Electric Talk

Guitar Strings – How long do unopened packs last?

Guitar and bass strings wear out with use. Your playing style, frequency and the environment all have an effect on how fast strings wear out. For this reason, it is recommended that strings be replaced at frequent intervals. But what about strings that haven’t been used? How long can they be kept in your closet or guitar case before they are unusable? Do guitar strings have an expiration date? This is something I have thought about before. So instead of speculating, I decided to write to major guitar string manufacturers and ask them.

Here’s what I wrote:

Do electric/acoustic guitar strings have a shelf life and an expiration date? How long does an unopened pack of strings last? Also what can one do to extend the life of strings when they’re on the instrument?

And the responses I got from string companies-

Tech

Guide to Small-sized Guitar Amplifiers – Part 1

I like small-sized guitar amplifiers. These amplifiers are affordable and also easy to use – just plug-in and start playing. Most small-sized amp heads and combos are low power, 100% valve driven units. But there are also some micro amps out there that are transistor based and just incredibly small in size. A non-musician could easily mistake them for toys and not real musical instruments. Modern manufacturing technology has made it possible to have such amazing gear available to us.

In this first part of this list I have presented the most prominent small amp heads available today. It is is no way an exhaustive list, but I did my best to find amps of all kinds from all over the world. I have included amps that are fully tube driven or hybrid units of 1 or 5 watts RMS. The list includes the model of the amp and its specs and also the pros and cons of each amp, so you can get a complete perspective on what the amp is all about.

Here’s the list (in alphabetical order) :

Tech