In their debut single ‘Pretend’, Heiwa an experimental hardcore band based out of Bangalore, India explore the dimensions of self-expression and the existential nature of simply living and being conscious.
Reinforced by vocals from frontman Ashish that are reminiscent of Thom Yorke’s cautious and haunting melodies, ‘pretend’s instrumental arrangements initially seem like they contrast the track’s crooning vocal delivery however one must keep in mind that the arrangements are a great example of “fitting in yet standing out”. Though seemingly in opposition to each other, the vocals and instrumental arrangements blend in together to create an audial experience that is inspiring yet absurd at the same time. While their primary focus was to maintain an uneasy state of equilibrium between what’s seemingly chaotic and what’s idealistically orderly, Heiwa effortlessly blends the electric guitar’s bright-sounding twinkle with the explosive percussiveness of the drums that progressively gets louder and more turbulent contrasting the track’s mellow classical guitar arrangements, convoluted vocal harmonies, and reverb-drenched ambient synth drones.
Influenced by the likes of Radiohead, The Contortionist, Arcane Roots, The Physics House Band, Childish Japes, and Pretend, Heiwa still manages to birth their own individual sound with ‘Pretend’ without lurking in the shadow of their influences.
Rohil, one of the guitarists explains that the process of writing this track was rooted in an undying urge to be as original as possible while still managing to retain some of the elements of their influences that helped pioneer the heiwa sound. The track ‘Pretend’ started off as a piece centered around two very different electric guitar parts in synchrony with each other.
Over time Adhithya, another one of the guitarists in Heiwa felt that the track was in dire need of a newer element. Drawing inspiration from the likes of folk artists such as Mid-Air Thief, Nick Drake, and Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, the nylon-stringed classical guitar was introduced as a blending tool that brought various eclectic elements of the composition together.
Bharath, the drummer further says that composing the track involved a lot of subtle advancements in dynamics through the progression of the song. “The subtleties in my drumming are influenced by JP Bouvet and the solos are influenced by Matt Garstka”
Trying to merely explain the song as a theoretical creation by individuals who came together with the intention of creating art however does ‘Pretend’ no justice. It is as much a refined and well-crafted track as it is a spontaneous burst of noise and energy by bandmates in sync with each other musically.
In the words of the bassist, Ralph “I can’t say too much about how I composed this track because I honestly can’t put my finger on it, I just felt it”.
The spontaneity in the process of the creation of this track is what makes it stand out as a piece of art that you cannot ignore.