Rachika Nayar: Heaven Come Crashing Album Review

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Rachika Nayar doesn’t just spit out a little fog before her live show, she pushes the venue’s fire code to its limit. Before the guitarist takes the stage, the entire performance space is darkened, the red exit signs barely visible, until you can barely see your hand in front of your face. The effect on the audience is immediate: conversations dull to a whisper and friends cautiously drift towards each other to reunite before the music begins, tiptoeing through a shadowy maze of bodies as they become more aware of themselves.

It’s the perfect environment to discover Nayar’s music. Interviewed on the heels of its debut in 2021, Our hands against the twilightshe defended the “totally obliterating” power of a rave’s atmosphere and spoke of her desire to create a similar environment, one that “simultaneously takes you out of yourself and overwhelms you to your very core” . Our hands did so by constructing hazy ambient mazes from processed guitar, revealing Nayar’s ability to sculpt the instrument’s earthy twang into unpredictable alien timbres and return them to familiar shapes at all times. When Nayar debuted the tracks from his amazing second album, Heaven comes crashing down, at Public Records in Brooklyn, strobes erupted violently and unexpected waves of drums crashed through the crowd. Egos melted away as the crowd breathed in a wave of ecstatic release.

Heaven comes crashing down injects the ambient wash of Nayar’s past work with flashes of dancefloor emotivity, striking a balance between thoughtful contemplation and the thrill of a warehouse party. On the superb title track, she traces the arc of her musical transformation in miniature. Slices of grainy guitar softly refract into the frame, and for a few seconds the song could be a remnant of the faded sentimentality of Our hands. But she continues, backed by the unearthly voice of fellow guitarist and songwriter Maria BC as it transitions from airy swirls to a supercharged chorus. Suddenly, a trapdoor disengages and you’re propelled into a punishingly beautiful flapping drop. It’s a scene of catharsis surrounded by a grating guitar solo and crashing cymbals cascading a drum ‘n’ bass beat. “Heaven Come Crashing” elevates you with unabashed melodrama and pure affirmation: Everything was worth it.

Nayar unfolds these moments of tension and release with the sixth sense of a seasoned after-hours DJ, acutely aware that floor-filling emotional highs are earned through careful pacing. “Tetramorph,” the longest and most satisfying song on the album, weaves its way through a series of faux stops and starts that perfectly read the pulse of the crowd. The chattering hi-hats come in at full volume, breaking the silence of a pin in a quick burst of stimulation. They fade away but the effects cling to your body, supporting you as you navigate a maze of buzzing drones that build to a waltzing post-rock climax. The effect is startling, but as Nayar sways through the coda, you easily remember every part of the meticulously arranged journey, impressed with how seamlessly she blended everything together.

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