Agathya Visveswaran, originally from Rochester, studied classical and jazz guitar at the Hochstein School of Music and Eastman Community Music School, respectively, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from her new album “A Portal Inside”. Creating pop soundscapes under the nickname Agaaze, Visveswaran has transformed into an electronic maestro.
Another unlikely reality is that “A Portal Inside” is reminiscent of pop music from the 90s – a time in which 19-year-old Visveswaran was not yet born. The seven-track album is a reverberating dance soundtrack for an imaginary Club Kids underground party.
Each track is systematically mid-tempo and vaguely psychedelic. The lyrics are shrouded in a smoky haze, but the words take precedence over the mood at all times. It’s like EDM is taking a cold pill. The result is a strange but satisfying mix of rave music and trip-hop.
Released on December 24, “A Portal Inside” begins with “Day Dreaming,” a song powered by a big funk synth and programmed applause that sounds corny on paper but bakes on the audio system.
Of all the songs, “Tidal Waves” is the fastest and most energetic. Despite the shimmer of the swirling keyboards and the emphatically buzzing bassline, it’s Visveswaran’s jazz guitar solo that turns out to be the tastiest.
By the time the album ends with “Enter the Portal” the vocal melodies have become thin and repetitive, but the pop arrangements do not lose any of their luster. A simple four-chord progression provides compositional stability as the rhythm shifts below with mercurial syncopations that are reminiscent of both the aesthetic of 80s dance and 2000s hip-hop.
Agaaze’s “A Portal Inside” is an early debut album. Visveswaran has a natural affinity for thoughtful pop textures that suggest sophisticated sound design hidden under electronic glow. I can’t wait to hear what he will produce next.
Daniel J. Kushner is the artistic writer of CITY. He can be contacted at [email protected]