"I like to mess with everything," says upcoming 21-year-old NYC producer Chester Raj Anand, aka Lord RAJA. & 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 + 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 & beautiful throughout, creating a sound that’s immersive & distinctive — lead track “Pistol Syrup” comes across like lo-fi hip hop from some fascinating future, built around a repeated vocal sample + a clattering old school beat. “Dipteres Pt. 2” is more reflective, an atmospheric stew of synths & intricate percussion, & “Panthera Bengal” + final track “Globe in My Room” explore similar territory, floating in a haze of tape hiss & 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.

The Rubies EP is available as a free download below thanks to Ghostly.

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