Rachika Nayar “Our Hands Against the Dark”

Our Hands Against the Dark holds memories in glass prisms, a delicate balance of remembering the tactile aspects of specific points in time with the need to let go and grab the hand held out in front of you. It’s a deeply felt work that feels carved out of time itself, moments held in stasis to be examined, cherished, and ultimately laid to rest. It took Nayar four years to write and record this album and in the depth of the compositions and emotions throughout, that tremendous amount of care is obvious.

“Losing Too Is Still Ours” lulls you in with layered, flickering guitar loops that get you deep enough into the valley before YATTA’s voice emerges like a valkyrie from the sky, begging you to never forget what you’ve seen, to never move on. At odds with the skittering guitars and thrumming bass that are immersed in the idea of forward progress, YATTA continues until new forms surface with strings reaching skyward, pulling the song out of YATTA’s gravity as they finally let go and the piece drifts away like dandelion seeds on the wind. It’s an absolutely stunning piece of music that I keep returning to, feeling as though there are more buried secrets to unearth. 

That depth and intensity that pushes “Losing Too Is Still Ours” so high is prevalent throughout Our Hands Against the Dark. With “Aurobindo,” there’s a physical dread just under the surface. Nayar’s voice floats weightlessly throughout the first half of the piece, a light against the darkness beneath. Repetitive, wordless vocal melodies etch themselves into your mind, recalling the way mother’s comfort their babies with repeated phrases and soft coos. Midway there’s a dividing line, a realization that another path is possible and Nayar shifts into glistening tones that end with her guitar’s chord changes stretching shiny tendrils to the sun. It’s an unbelievable piece of music; a real showcase for how incredible Nayar is.

So much of Our Hands Against the Dark is heavy. Musically, it’s deep and challenging and emotionally it doesn’t ever pull punches or go easy. But that’s where Rachika Naya’s genius lives. This space in between where we’ve been and where we are is a minefield; it’s uOncomfortable sometimes, but it’s also beautiful and navigating through that murk creates a kind of hope for what’s next. Our Hands Against the Dark is a shield and a map to use and find your way home. Incredible