Parekh & Singh are a pop duo from Kolkata, India. Nischay Parekh sings, plays guitar, keyboards and synths. Jivraj Singh plays drums, drum machines and effects. While Nischay has one foot in this world and the other in the realm of dreams, Jivraj is a student of math and logic and drawn to life’s darker recesses. Friends, enemies, neighbours and brothers - they wrestle, play table tennis, eat, think, argue, play chess and roam the streets. But, above all, they make music of whimsical, magical beauty and Ocean is their debut album.
While their name might recall a small firm of accountants - by day Jivraj keeps books at the family hotel - these office dreamers have conjured nine glowing tracks of cosmic pop that shimmer like an Indian sunset. The infectious and melodic opener I Love You Baby charts the agony and the ecstasy of uncertain young love. Me and You offers a carefree paean to youthful innocence rarely heard in these times. The swelling production of title track Ocean ebbs and flows between staying put or setting sail. Panda’s “forests of the night time” rekindles a childhood imagination fired by the poetry of William Blake. Animals populate their imaginations - they often think of themselves as street dogs - and the paintings of Yashasvi Mathis that grace the cover.
A bright sun casts dark shadows. While undeniably sun-kissed, a darkness lurks within that reflects the contradictory nature of this somewhat eccentric duo. Innocence is tempered by experience. The pill-popping oddity of Hill plays like a ‘B’ movie trailer. With the latter stealing a line from Annie Hall, a shared love of Woody Allen, David Lynch and Wes Anderson comes as no surprise. With Ghost’s loping drum and piano rhythm we wallow in delicious melancholy. Newbury Street sees the student Nischay struggle with homesickness under New England skies.
As the words of Philosophize suggest - “a New York state of mind in Indian Standard Time” - while both have travelled they are always drawn inexorably back to the city they love, ‘the city that never wakes’. It’s where our two dreamers can be found,wandering Kolkata’s uncharted alleys in search of the urban pools (‘pukur‘) that dot through the perilously polluted metropolis like portals to peace and tranquility.
Parekh & Singh’s easy way with each other and the dreamy languor that pervades their music belies the dedication of two talented musicians, both immersed in music from an early age. While Jivraj grew up onstage and backstage following his parent’s band, Nischay’s household was soundtracked by his mother’s lucky- dip cassette hoard of pop classics from Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder to Geri Halliwell and Latino rock power trio Los Lonely Boys. Sunday mornings were for Jagjit Singh and the evenings for Elvis. While many influences can be detected across its nine tracks - the cracked beauty of Secrets is dusted with a distinctly Americana feel for instance - Ocean is the fresh new sound of India*. A timeless pop masterpiece in the making.
*N.B. sitars and tablas have not been used in the recording of this music.