It is nigh on impossible to describe the work of art that is Peter Cat Recording Co. and the obscure and intrinsically improbable collection of sounds that make up their new masterpiece Bismillah. Having worked in relative obscurity for the last decade, the New Delhi-based quintet has been experimenting with a bizarre combination of jazz, electro, ambient, folk and pop to form a new breed of sound that can arguably only be called contemporary pop.
Even that title doesn’t do the music that the group produce any justice as their work can only really be left to speak for itself. What is especially confusing about Peter Cat Recording Co. is the gentle and almost sombre nature of the band. They look like an indie rock group but when they start to play you are instead met with this new combination of sounds that make the word fusion sound dull. Bismillah is almost as if Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young had joined forces with Dean Martin only to jump through time to meld together their style with The Avalanches, Boney M and Japanese alt-jazz band Rigga. This cataclysmic combination creates a collection of songs that is genuinely unlike anything you have ever heard before. Songs like Memory Box are driven by virulent and adoring melodies that seem to feed directly from the disco era yet overlaid with vocals that seem to have been born in the 50s.
This obscure amalgamation of sound gives the group a strangely timeless quality as their fusions all meld together to draw influence from the past but also from the future. Their daring and experimental nature has allowed them to piece together an album that defies your every expectation and crafts a new niche. There is a softly crooning lilt to their voices which perfectly reflects the beautiful, idealistic and tenderly romanticised notions that the band concentrate on. Bismillah is a phrase that translates in a literal sense to ‘in the name of God’ but despite the title there doesn’t feel like there is any judgement or preaching on their album. Many religious aspects in song cause a conflict between the lyrics and the melodies but Peter Cat Recording Co. just focus their full attention on their increasingly strange collection of harmonies, driven by guitar, drums, keyboards and trumpet the group produce completely unpredictable tracks such as Freezing, a track with a beguiling melody and amazing vocal performance, but it almost feels as though the song itself doesn’t know where it started or where it is going to end.
The reality of this is that Bismillah is a breath-taking album, completely unpredictable in nature and endlessly fascinating. The group have completely flipped the music world upside-down and placed themselves firmly on top with a surrounding collection of decadently quiet melodies. Peter Cat Recording Co. transcend space and time with ease, taking from each and every era a new and interesting element of sound and then jumping further into the future with them. They are simultaneously the sound of the past, the present and the future.
Review by Joe Knipe