Anish Kumar – ‘Postcards’ review: a vibrant and joyous summer smasher

Based on the evidence of his exhilarating debut project, the North East producer and DJ will be dominating dancefloors for years to come

Anish Kumar doesn’t want you “to just expect one thing from me” on his debut project, ‘Postcards’. “I don’t want to be a one-trick pony artist,” he recently told NME. “That’s my biggest battle, actually: getting stuff to still sound like me while [remaining] eclectic.”

Kumar shouldn’t worry too much about that, though. ‘Postcards’ is a vibrant, kaleidoscopic four-track voyage through the joyous world of electronic dance music; its creator drawing on a trove of samples and indulging in some of the best tropes of house music, disco and even northern soul to generate lashings of dancefloor delight.

Hailing from Washington in County Durham, the Four Tet-worshipping producer and DJ is currently balancing his music career with a six-year degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge. Kumar’s studies became a bit more complicated last year thanks to the underground hit ‘Blackpool Boulevard’, his soaring piano-led collaboration with the Edinburgh-born, London-based producer Barry Can’t Swim, which has gone on to rack up 1.9 million Spotify streams. “The intention was never to create this banger, or this big club tune – which is maybe how it’s ended up,” Kumar explained to NME about that song’s creation.

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It’s clear, though, that Kumar has a bit of a talent for creating “bangers [and] big club tunes” alike. ‘Postcards’ cranks into life with the aptly uplifting ‘Hummingbird’, which takes flight thanks to its stirring mix of twinkling piano loops, contrasting vocal samples and stuttering beats. As the track progresses, Kumar introduces additional synths into the mix, heightening that anticipatory sense of euphoria that finally cascades out when the second big drop arrives. Fist-pumping banger ‘Steamroller’ – with its perfectly plucked northern soul and horn samples that would feel at home on Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’ – follows, showcasing the other side of the coin when it comes to Kumar’s deft and inviting approach to dance music.

One of the joys of playing ‘Postcards’ on repeat – and you will do just that, especially given its relatively short runtime – is discovering the subtle details that Kumar inserts into his world of sound, such as the wind chimes and washed-out vocals which bookend ‘Bhavachakra’ or the percussive bells which rarely let up on the project’s determined closer ‘Return To Sender’. The care and craft that evidently goes into Kumar’s intoxicating style should ensure that ‘Postcards’ will feel right at home in whatever setting it’s played in, be it blasting out of your noise-cancelling headphones on the train home or lighting up dancefloors across the land.

Kumar still has two more years left at university before he can collect his degree, but he looks set to remain as dedicated to the music as he is academia. His debut album is set to be refined and hopefully finished during his summer break, in which he promises to “tell the story of who I am now”. If ‘Postcards’ is only intended to be a set of brief dispatches from Kumar’s production career to date, then we can’t wait to get stuck into his first real opus.

Details

Anish Kumar - 'Postcards' artwork

  • Release date: July 29
  • Record label: Patta Collective
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