New York sound artist Rachika Nayar’s fragments is a collection of tiny guitar loops, constructed in the familiar surroundings of her own bedroom. And this comfortable vibe has slipped into her music, giving it an instantly-at-ease feeling; shoes off, coffee at hand. This release acts as the latest entry in THERE, Commend’s ongoing series of music recorded beyond but inspired by the communal efforts of RVNG Intl.’s Lower East Side space.
Fellow New Yorker Nayar formed a close bond and an intimate relationship with the guitar while growing up, and she’s since explored many of the instrument’s labyrinthine possibilities. She’s in love with the guitar, and it shows. Nayar’s fragments uses effects to evolve and further bend the guitar’s sound beyond its standard expectations or preconceptions, especially with the use of delay pedals, which are used as a backdrop for improvisation and also end up creating entirely new rhythmic arenas. The layered guitar pieces have ‘evolved from a practice into a deep source of self-exploration and restoration’, ensuring music of a personal and spiritual nature, both in its domesticity and in its philosophy of knowing oneself on a deeper level. Music makes it all possible.
It’s also interesting to note Nayar’s preliminary processes for writing and composing, and how her ideas evolve – either naturally or with some harder work – into a single song. These fragments are so vital to the music, sitting at the core of its being, that the very word has been branded and used as its title. They preserve and highlight a single moment, a solitary fragment, a fleeting glimpse of a second forever caught, looped, repeated, dissected, played back again and again to chew on and savour, before it eventually drifts away and vanishes.
There is an unrivalled intimacy with the deep exploration of a single moment, as well as an inevitable anchoring to a specific place or time or event, and because of that, fragments has an authenticity that can’t really be matched; you have to experience something, go through something, to really resonate with it, understand it, and pick up on it.
Nayar views her music as a ‘constant companion’, providing an essential space for cleansing and renewal, and this album especially bears her personality, as she recorded the album at home, a place to feel comfortable, and where, in Nayar’s words, she could ‘access my heart and cultivate some kind of internal movement in times of stasis’.
Nayar places rhythm and melody at the forefront of her music. They both have a prominent role, and although these are tiny loops, they contain infinite depths. The melodies expand way beyond their brief timeslot of two minutes or so, and Nayar is able to fit a lot into any single piece without it ever feeling jam-packed or weighed down. In the prime of its life, the music glides along on buttery-smooth, clean strings. Her playing is virtuosic, and her technique and technical execution is proof of that. Melodies are never lost in their own looping complexity, and they’re never placed second to her world-class technique. Instead, her technical ability enables the melodies to grow and evolve and do their own thing, to be themselves, and that’s what technique is there for. The notes contain a good deal of humility, and a vague scent of nostalgia or yearning for something lost. The music is thoughtfully-designed, and, on repeated listens, something new waits to be discovered. The guitar’s multiple layers all converge, creating a beautiful, kaleidoscopic webwork of rhythms and complex, looping patterns; a place where an entire ecosystem of recurring, strong melodies feel at home.