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Released 5th January 2014 via


I was looking some inspiration this week, searching for something a little more uplifting. And its not always the easiest thing to find when you’re constantly sifting through music. I found a creative and talented musician this week in the form of Nihal Anand aka Deadstar.

Nihal has 4 previous releases to this latest E.P Congratulations On Your Happiness, one of which (All My Friends Are Dreamers) was reviewed by Echoes and Dust writer Gary Jackson last year.

After listening to previous works, it seems that Deadstar as a whole has improved not just in terms of quality of instrumentation, but also in progression of song structure, arrangement and overall song feel, taking previous constructive feedback and turning it on its head. And that’s saying something, because Nihal’s earlier releases are actually really strong and not to be sniffed at.

‘Sea Dream’ opens nicely with some reversed guitar work, which I am a big fan of. It creates an atmosphere and continues to add a subtle dreamscape in the background as the song begins to flow. Its not an epic entrance to the EP, but its only when you progress through the song, you realize its what you needed anyway.

The direction of the opening song helps the EP remain balanced yet gather a little momentum at the perfect pace. Beautiful sampled vocals occur halfway through the song by Sanjana Nyapati (from his other band Cloudstory) and add quality depth to the arrangement; as does the last half of this track with a lovely flowing bass line.

At this point it is important to point out that this EP was recorded without an actual Bass guitar, and all the bass lines are recorded by experimenting with a 7 string guitar. Something that still sounds natural and impressive.

Track two ‘ Jill, Jill’ continues where the last song left off and it becomes apparent that a lot of work and care has gone into the drumming of this EP and It’s hard work that has paid off nicely. The off-beats are more than impressive. They stay within the realms of reality and song structure in timing with the pretty but impressive guitar work that continues to unfold. It’s a build up track that almost carries you gently through the song to a wonderful climax of Post and Math Rock.

Halfway through, we come to a very strong EP title track. This song is predominantly again about the continuous clever understanding, yet not too over complicated, relationship between guitar work and drums. It’s a wonderful melody, and it changes halfway through to keep things interesting. Crashing cymbals bringing a crescendo to the song in just the right place makes it a joy to listen to, again and again.

Deadstar then brings it down a notch with the first of the two final tracks. ‘November Song’ shows a little diversity and more restraint compared to the rest of the songs. Here, I believe we are shown a Post Rock element to Deadstar and although it’s rather short, it does work and it does add that needed sorrow feel that should be included at some stage. Simple picked guitar work followed by a strong back bone of a drum beat to carry off an all round solid song, to which I can certainly hear the lush guitar sounds of 65daysofstatic come in towards the end. For me, I could of done with maybe another 30 seconds of the ending to really round it off.

Lastly, we approach probably my stand out track of this EP titled ‘December Song’. I’m taken back a step to the EP title track ‘Congratulations On Your Happiness’, which for me is a really good move. But in this case new elements of atmosphere and pads are evident within the break and ending and they make it very accomplished. It’s a smart move really, because if you listened just once you’d miss the point, but when listening to Deadstar’s new release as a whole, the penny drops.

I must mention the artwork as it is eye-catching, and it seems that Deadstar have a good understanding of this, as shown in previous releases too.

Yes, it may be quite a short EP in terms of track lengths, but does that really matter when you keep going back for more? And does that just make this EP much more special and something to really appreciate? I’ll let you be the judge, but in my opinion, hats off, I love it. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Deadstar in the future as I believe it’s just the tip of the iceberg in creativity for what Nihal Anand has in store for us.

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