I'm no artist, but have always wondered how it must feel to release a debut album. Apart from the nervous apprehension tied to awaiting critical response, I imagine that it's cathartic for many musicians. Sharing years of work rooted in a million moments and emotions must, in a sense, feel freeing. Weaving together so many threads collected over a lifetime, debut albums can be intensely personal, and because of this, are often beautiful patchwork composites. Maybe it's not that romantic in reality. Who knows? Again, I'm no artist.
But these were the thoughts I was pondering while listening to Rachika Nayar's gorgeous debut album, Our Hands Against The Dusk. Over eight shimmering tracks, the Brooklyn-based composer loops and layers guitar, synth, piano, strings, and vocals. But instead of the orthodox brand of post-classical this site often covers, Nayar's constructions are characterized by their allusions to more modern genres. You'll pick up on glitch, emo, and even a couple of samples presented through a chopped and screwed filter. By touching on so many styles, Nayar really shows what has influenced her approach to composition. We're a little hesitant to name favorite tracks since each song is best heard within the context of the whole album, but we're suckers for bookends. Opener (and lead single) The Trembling of Glass opens with a familiar piano chord strike before clean guitar joins the mix, making it a soft introduction, which we appreciate. Closer No Future captures some of Nayar's distinct aesthetic - some string quartet, a Dntel-style midsection, and a solo piano send-off.
To dive beneath surface-level sound descriptions, Our Hands Against The Dusk cradles Rachika Nayar's personal narrative. As an Indian-American trans person, she has navigated through many communities, and over the past four years (while this album took shape), Nayar experienced many emotional highs and lows. These moments give her debut a thematic structure, like we are reading (or rather, hearing) bits and pieces of her journal. So as you explore Our Hands Against The Dusk once it's out on March 5th, maybe you, like me, will imagine what it's like to release a debut album for others to hear. It must feel so personal, so vulnerable, and hopefully for many artists, cathartic. Rachika Nayar's debut is outstanding and impressive on so many levels, and will hopefully be the first musical offering in a long line of future releases. Hear a preview track below, and visit the artist's Bandcamp page to purchase the album.