"I like to mess with everything," says upcoming 21-year-old NYC producer Chester Raj Anand, aka Lord RAJA. And it shows. Anand's debut EP Rubies is the work of a producer who clearly delights in exploring the possibilities of sound through meticulous production and a sureness of touch that'd befit someone of far more advanced years — a legacy, perhaps, of his upbringing: "I think I liked the idea of communicating with sounds rather than lyrics since a young age," he says, "because when I would hear Indian music in the car I couldn't understand the words. I just focused on the instrumental loops and saw that as a new form of expression or reflection."
This idea informs Rubies as a whole. The production is both lush and beautiful throughout, creating a sound that's immersive and distinctive — lead track "Pistol Syrup" comes across like lo-fi hip hop from some fascinating future, built around a repeated vocal sample and a clattering old school beat. "Dipteres Pt. 2" is more reflective, an atmospheric stew of synths and intricate percussion, and "Panthera Bengal" and final track "Globe in My Room" explore similar territory, floating in a haze of tape hiss and slow-burning synths. "He Won't Pay Me," meanwhile, employs the talents of acclaimed jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, who wrote a part specifically for the song. His delicate piano figure wreathes the vocal hook "I do not know where I am" — a succinct summation of this EP's sound, which creates a place all its own.