The cops all know you've been sleeping in your car, but you're so polite when you step outside, they've let it slide so far. You tried once again to find the house that you once knew, but streets seem rearranged. The names have changed and it's not coming back to you. —"Coming Back"
Imagine that confusion, the panic of being awoken mid-slumber by the cops' flashlight. Next comes the explanation, which will eventually get you off the hook—all for the crime of sleeping in your vehicle. Then there's the swelling panic of missing homes and unfamiliar streets, tied together by the understanding that it's not going to get any better, and you aren't any closer to returning home. The permeating sadness of "Coming Back" is at the heart of the One AM Radio's latest album, This Too Will Pass. Hrishikesh Hirway, the band's sole permanent member, has spent the last few years bouncing around the globe and living the life of a lost soul who sleeps in his car.
The frenzied global path of Hirway, who was born in Massachusetts to Indian parents, started when he left Yale to pursue his dual love of hardcore punk and hiphop. While trudging along I-10 deep within the nothingness of west Texas, Hirway spoke openly about what drew him to such variant forms of music. "Hardcore's main influence on me was the idea of catharsis, of a veneer-less presentation, a sometimes painful honesty. Hiphop's influence on me, however, is something much less esoteric. I'm a drummer first and foremost, and I always wanted to make hiphop beats."
Hirway's hardcore pedigree found him touring alongside DIY punk bands, while his longing to experiment with hiphop beats led to collaborating with Ninja Tune's Daedelus. Of course, very little of his influences are present within the cathartic whispers—tastefully placed over the electronic hum of digital beats and strummed guitar—of the One AM Radio. Says Hirway, "I had these other things I wanted to do too, like string arrangements and big vocal harmonies, so I've been trying to combine them all as best I can." His combination meets perfection on This Too Will Pass, where you've never heard a quiet song with such loud drums—they resonate like a ghost rumbling down the hall—underneath Hirway's wonderfully delicate voice.
The sheer amount of musical texture on the album is matched by Hirway's lyrical detail, which focuses tight on the tragedies of everyday minutia and the importance of the minor details we tend to overlook in our daily existence. Nature is the backdrop in songs that stray from the frozen ground under snow to a castaway's island home and then waking to a damp gray dawn spent sleeping beneath the stars.
This is music that is fueled by the restlessness of Hrishikesh Hirway. Though influenced DIY hardcore and hiphop, he takes very little from either genre, instead picking and choosing small elements to round out This Too Will Pass. It's a weighted listen, leaving you reeling from emotions spent focusing on the details of such rich music. It's not light summertime fare by any means, and despite its hushed tone, this is not bedtime music—unless of course you want to sleep in your car and give yourself over to some fucked-up dreams that are interrupted by the cops.