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Mumbai in a sound place


Mumbai was an especially surreal city to live in during the early days of the country-wide lockdown. Normally a pulsating metropolis, it was shrouded with an eerie silence broken only by the likes of chirping birds, the occasional cries of vegetable vendors strolling by with their carts, and the wail of beggars pleading with people housed within their walls of privilege. The city is inching back to life again. Some of the more familiar sounds like that of honking cars have returned to assault our ears. But it will still be a while before we go back to the helter-skelter existence that had consumed our lives before the pandemic.

Dennis Fabian Peter is an electronic artiste who has now given that earlier hustle and bustle a sonic narrative. He’s released a single called This city swells under his artiste moniker, Non Linear. It’s a track that captures the previous frenetic pace of the city that we had accepted as de rigueur. A thumping bass line that remains constant reflects Mumbai’s nonstop pulse, for instance. Peter says, “I also included elements of grunge music that represent the city’s grit despite all its glamour.”

Dennis Fabian Peter aka Non Linear
Dennis Fabian Peter aka Non Linear

Overall, the single gives a sense of a normal day in the life of an upwardly mobile Mumbaikar. You wake up, rush for work, slog through the day, return home in the evening, get your groceries before the markets shut, head out for drinks or a meal at night (maybe there’s also an after party involved if you’re of that disposition) and then hit the sack before you rinse and repeat, with hardly any time to breathe.

Peter isn’t from the city, though. But the Goa-based musician is a frequent visitor and was here in February for an artiste residency where he conceived the track. He also used his experiences as a trained architect and visual artiste to create a video for it that uses different maps of the city for an animated representation of Mumbai’s evolution. The images have an abstract quality. In fact, so does the music. But then again, these are abstract times. Few things seem to make any sense anymore. So, how nice it would be if only we could turn back the clock and return to the daily grind that Peter’s track represents, despite all our previous grumbling.

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