Aatmaa - Cataclysm

by Kevin Wierzbicki

The married, Chicago-based couple of Ashwin and Shara Deepankar are Aatmaa (Hindi for "the soul") and Cataclysm is their debut release. With Shara on vocals and Ashwin on guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion the pair manage a very full sound as demonstrated from the get-go on opening track "Suffering Ahead." The song begins in a very ethereal mood as Shara sings dreamily over a somewhat trippy music bed but the mood changes drastically with Shara's last line in the mellow part being "I'm not sure you give a f**k" just before the song explodes with a much heavier sound filled with screeching guitar from Ashwin. The contrast and the darkness are prevalent throughout the rest of the album, with Shara singing like a siren on the slow marching "Low Lights;" she tunes into a mournful bleakness over a gentle melody that ultimately bursts into a noisy rhythm on "Her Stoning" and sings on Ashwin's beat and over his wigged-out psychedelic melody on the ominously-titled "Hidden Bruises." "Solstice" offers a bit of mid-album calm with no musical cataclysm included but there's more reflection on the dire side of life with closing number "Dementia Pending," a look at a failed relationship. These are definitely not carefree pop songs but Aatmaa are mesmerizing here as they explore the blackness that so often permeates the soul.

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