“ohno” by Shaan Kambli is a prime example of production that exercises both creativity and restraint. The moments in this song which are bombastic, busy, and textural are made special by the moments in which the instrumentation is sparse. Every little decision feels intentional and to that effect, masterful.
The song begins with the chorus, sung by a bright, crisp vocalist. The melody is acrobatic, swinging from note to note with immense amounts of speed and smoothness. Little ethereal instruments, such as a guitar and a fuzzy synth, wash through the background, but the presence of the rhythmic integrity in the vocal keeps the groove consistent. At the end of the hook, a quick flourish of vocal editing transitions us straight into the verse, at which point, a lower vocal utters, “Taken by surprise.” The bass mimics the melody and a tight, concise drum groove fills in the beat. It’s hard to even put a finger on what it is, but the way the vocals and bass interplay here is so infectious. We’re able to bask in the sporadic synth hits and echos while this locked-in melody pierces through an almost silent backsplash. It’s entrancingly lovely.
By the second time the chorus rolls around, we’re gifted with a swarm of timbres and motifs. The bass performs a funky, shapely line while the guitar takes on a ghost note-like quality. After the last word, a post-chorus of pulsing synths and dreamy melodies fills in the sonic space, satisfying the inevitable climax implied by the stripped-down nature of the verse.
If you’ve ever been interested in exploring the ins and outs of electronic production, “ohno” is like a masterclass. Shaan Kambli does a fantastic job of creating an approachable yet complex piece of art with this track.
Written by Alyce lindberg