Boomkat Product Review:
Mappa's latest offering is the debut from Sowmya Somanath, aka Plume Girl, a Hindustani classical singer and composer who uses the root rāga form to inspire folk-y, experimental vignettes that pulse with warmth. RIYL Arushi Jain, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith or claire rousay.
Based in Austin, Texas, Somanath makes the kind of DIY pop music that's deceptively complex. Flitting between acoustic instrumentation and electronics, Hindustani structures and delicate American folk, she paints a deeply personal, diaristic picture that's rare and beautiful. It's her voice that immediately grabs us on 'bilhag', rising like humid air over evocative field recordings and a faint harmonium drone. The recording quality can't help but remind us of homespun, DIY folk music, but the construction is entirely different; Somanath uses these aesthetics to throw us off guard, introducing her narrative carefully and rigorously.
On '4get yrself', synthesizers splutter beneath harmonium squeaks and Somanath's powerful voice, but nothing sounds forced. It's as free flowing and raw as anything from the New Weird America set, but contextualized a little differently. Somanath sings through AutoTune on 'swimming lessons' over a ramshackle beat made from (what sounds like) cutlery, and harmonizes with material from fellow Texan claire rousay. And on 'alone, all one', she chops dialog samples over household sounds and airy drones - it's the soundtrack to an experience that sounds so human you can almost hear it breathing.