Koushik

Be With

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AllMusic Review by

Koushik Ghosh is an admitted fan of Madlib, so it must have been overwhelming for him to be signed to his idol's label, Stones Throw. Be With, a collection of his three EPs on one CD, appeared one year prior to the 2006 release of his debut album, Out My Window, but Koushik is not what you might expect to come out of a Stones Throw release. Yes, he's a producer and a vocalist (though Koushik sings, not raps), but he creates melodic and textural works reminiscent of '60s psych-pop, Shuggie Otis, or even Beck. Koushik's soft, airy voice (styled perhaps on his heroes My Bloody Valentine) doesn't act as the main attraction: rather, he uses it as a DJ would, as another sound to add to his songs. His words aren't meant to be understood, they're just supposed to flow in and out of the piece like every other component, and the elongated syllables add a nice contrast to the frequent speed and confusion in the instrumentation. Koushik is big on build-up -- starting out with a simple bassline, a few chords, a soft beat, adding on layer after layer, then slowly stripping everything until he's almost where he started, before he builds it up again (a little differently this time -- the bass groove adds a few notes, the keys play more chords) and the song finally ends in a familiar riff or just fades slowly and softly away instead. It proves to be a good recipe: the album is pleasant and soft but not boring, and the tracks are surprisingly brief: they don't continue on forever as often happens with looping. When Koushik is especially successful, like in the hauntingly melancholic "Ew," it's fantastic, and the song begs to be longer, and when he's less than spectacular (the lackluster "Back to the End," for example), it's nice that most of the songs on the album fall far short of the three-minute mark. Yes, by the end of the album his formula is well understood, but it produces such likable songs that it doesn't really matter. Koushik is one to keep an eye on, and it will be interesting to see what he will do with a full album. He holds great promise; he'll just have to learn how to put it all together.

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