Peter Cat Recording Co - Portrait Of A Time: 2010-2016


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A cat may have nine lives, but Peter Cat Recording Co. has a multitude of dimensions. Formed in New Delhi around 2010 by the crooner Suryakant Sawhney, it’s a group that’s mutated over time, shedding members and accruing more, always evolving musically with each album: from gypsy jazz to psychedelic cabaret; ballroom waltzes to epic space disco; bossa supernova to uneasy listening. What’s more they play jajj, which you’ve almost certainly never heard of. 
“Gypsy jazz is the description we used around the time of our first album Cinema that we sound nothing like now,” says Sawhney, before adding: “At the time I was really into Strauss.” 

Portrait of a Time 2010 - 2016 is the first taste many Europeans will have of this highly original, musically capricious and deeply inscrutable New Delhi four-piece. The compilation helps you get to know a band who are essentially unknowable, not that that will stop you from trying. Furthermore, in a capital city known for its mystery, madness and mayhem, Peter Cat Recording Co. is something of an anomaly there too. 

While Suryakant’s crooning is spookily reminiscent of a hipster 50’s Sinatra, it was more his intention to ape legendary Bollywood playback singers like Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi and especially Hemant Kumar. There are diverse American influences in the mix too, including Sam Cooke, Etta James and even Tom Waits, and time spent in San Francisco studying film may have contributed to the cinematic melange. Thrown together it becomes something unique that equates less to a listening experience and more to an out-of-body experience. 

They were signed to new French record company Panache after label boss Alexandre Rabia was trawling through YouTube one day and happened upon their remarkable promo for ‘Love Demons'. It’s a mind-blowing eight minute epic featuring the desert, one camel, a movie theatre, swirly organs over coruscating beats, dancing girls, more police and a cavernous pit that then-bassist Rohan Kulshreshtha falls into. 

You can try to compartmentalise them all you want, but just when you think you’ve got them pegged, they will evolve and transmogrify and the description you have in your hand will slip through your fingers like sand. Who knows if Peter Cat Recording Co. has nine lives, but you can listen to a past life on Portrait of a Time, and a future incarnation - much of it recorded in Paris - will be available in the autumn. Just remember, unlike a cat, you’ll never put them in a box.

 Hail Piano   
I'm Home 
Portrait of a Time 
Bebe de Vyah
The Clown on the 22nd dancefloor
Love Demons 

Artist Peter Cat Recording Co
Title Portrait Of A Time: 2010-2016
Label Panache
Format LP
Release Date 31st May 2019
Cat Number PACHE002