In 2003 Hammarsing Kharhmar left Shillong, a small city in the foothills of the Himalayas in North Eastern India, and headed to Boston. He eventually wound up in New York City playing his own music as Mon Khmer, but since 2008 he's been wailing on his guitar and touring the world at Albert Hammond Jr.'s side. But Hammarsing's not just some axe for hire, he's been working hard on a new solo project and as Exhibition—newly signed to Julian Casablancas's Cult Records—he premiered his new guise to the world a couple weeks back. "No One There," which features Casablancas on vocals, is a louche, gutsy cut, full of melancholic harmonies and snappy handclaps. The synths are on an epic 80s cinematic tip.
"One of the best moments during the recording of the EP and quite possibly in my music career was when we tracked Julian's vocals," says Hammarsing. "Watching him try out different ideas so casually, searching, exploring and then delivering with precision the idea and sound that was in his head was amazing. We became friends from playing soccer and I'm really happy at how our collaboration turned out. It felt like a series of natural passes that led to an awesome goal!"
Meanwhile, according to The Strokes frontman Hammarsing is "a boy [who] came from a distant land with a dream, and I was happy to weave that dream into a reality-cloth."
Joined by Hammarsing's fellow Albert Hammond Jr. cohorts Jordan Brooks on bass (who also makes music as Ex-Poets), and Jeremy Gustin on drums his Last Dance EP—premiering below—came to fruition with the additional talent of one of the singer's nearest and dearest, co-producer Jeremy Loucas (Esperanza Spalding), with his wife Solonje Burnett Loucas on backing vocals. The rest of the EP is a welcome reminder that indie rock, and sweet, sweet riffs still rule. As Exhibition, Hammarsing combines pop nous with a frenetic kind of cool.
"Capturing a raw energy and having fun playing the songs was one of the main goals when we were recording, and playing with Jordan and Jeremy, with whom I've played countless shows touring in the Albert Hammond Jr. band, made it so easy to find the right arrangements and delivery for each song," he explains. Apparently he wants people to hear his EP and "dance with pure joy in the darkest club or under a clear blue sky."
Sounds ideal. Listen below:
Recorded, mixed and mastered: Jeremy Loucas / Design and Art Direction: Piera Wolf / Photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya