Pendulous threads

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Indian Sounds: The soft, the trippy, the heavy.

No, there has been no upheaval. It has always been there, and we chose not so see, for a long time. We rather chose to be plundered into the sounds that emanated from foreign shores, because it reeked of a sort of melodramatic insight that we thought we lacked in our own country. Flash forward to the year 2010. If there has been any sort of revelatory revolution, barring Mamata Bannerjee's march against the Communist bastion in West Bengal, it's the music. The bloody, heart-throbbing, mind numbing, solitude inducing, soul crunching music that is being broadcast out of the shores of my country. For years, I/we have held a general disregard for the music that artists in India have produced, solely because it held vibes of non-professionalism, candid plagiarism, and an incessant need/want to sound 'international'. Now, much to my and the general music-loving Indian's ears' respite, there is what we call, hope. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about a few bands/artists who have been making headlines in India and abroad. They sound genuine, probably because they are, and because the music they make is thought-provoking and thoughtful at the same time. It is made with a pinch of sensibility, and they still hold onto their ideals of musicmanship. They sample, they blast bass drums, they scream in tone, they croon and they are funky, to say the least. I would like to list my favourites.

I love Beth Gibbons. I love her to bits. Her voice drips melancholy, easy and calm for those evenings and mornings when you want to see the world but from under the duvet. Thing is, Portishead doesn't do a lot of travelling these days, and neither does Elizabeth Fraser. So in walked Tanvi Rao, and brought along this dude with a misplaced baseball cap, a sampler and a laptop loaded with music software, and Tanvi brought along her croon. No disrespect to Gibbons, but Tanvi sounds more accessible. She slides over vocal duties, ever so effervescently, whispering words that resound over the sampled bass Rahul Giri sets up beautifully. They are 2 people on a mellowdramatic mission, as they say. I was literally taken aback when I heard 'Wait', one of their earlier songs. A touch of classical Carnatic, a dash of falsetto, a dose of low frequency beats, a whole load of trip hop, and you get a seamless mixture that is original to the core. To make things better, they're from Bangalore, the city where I, well, lose myself from time to time. Sulk Station makes it a whole lot easier for me.

Pick'led': Wait , Contentment.

'Bicycle Day' was the day when Albert Hofmann, the father of LSD, decided to trip, not knowing that it would be a trip. I am not sure if the band's name spins from this, but it would make perfect sense if it did. You see, they call themselves an alternative band, but they're a lot more than that, and that would not be my guess. A friend of mine, who happens to know these blokes, asked me to check out their music and comment on their abilities. I listened, and I immediately asked her to pursue, promote and glorify them. Karthik's voice matches the sensibilities that the band portrays: a ghostly, sometimes marauding, omnipotent haze of droptunes. They released their first EP, '42' this year, and I was disappointed for not having access to it. I am still disappointed for not having ever seen them live, because from what my friends tell me, they pack in quite a show, visuals and all. The band have received rave reviews from the Indian music media, and for no small reason. If you listen to Porcupine Tree, Oceansize, Incubus or any other band that fits the mentioned bill, you'll like TBD. And more so, because they're Indian, and influences quoted are Douglas Adams, Bill Hicks, sarcasm, existentialism and peace. The track '27', is just plain goddamned top notch. The sound they create is primal but without being aggressive. Put your headphones on and close those eyes, because the trip is in your mind. The poster boys of Indian psychedelia are here. Valium in a CD. Who'd have thought?

Pick'led': 27, Circles.

'M*d*rch*d!!!'. That is exactly what you'll exclaim when you let these guys take over your modestly priced stereo system. No pretensions here. No nice boys in flannel shirts. It's a plain and simple 'Wham, Bam, kaisa laga?' 5 incredibly talented individuals with a single motive - to moshpit the living hell out of your brain with their flaming cocktail of Bollywood catchphrases, blatantly bloody blastbeats, sarcastic jibes and riffs that make Meshuggah proud. They claim to be hardcore, and no one is complaining at their live shows. Scribe is the band that the Indian metal freak has embraced with nonchalant glee, and so have I. 2 albums to their credit, 'Confect' and 'Mark of Teja'. Both will go down as seminal masterpieces in the Indian metal phenomena. Although the first album had it's share of production glitches, no one can ever accuse these guys for not trying. 'Analyze This' starts with Neo's (remember that sci-fi legend?) last monologue from 'The Matrix', followed swiftly by the sound of the snare drums being thrashed to smithereens (smile!!), and the the man called Vishwesh clears his throat. Literally. My favourite song off that album, and for good reason. Midway into the track, I think I hear Slipknot, and therein lies my mistake. I should not be comparing these guys to them, or to any other band. They opened for Lamb of God, they've played at international music festivals, and then some. They are radical and talented enough to stand on their own name, and do a beautifully post-apocalyptic job at that. The second album sees them experiment a bit more, challenge a lot more. Song titles include 'I Love You, Pav Bhaji', 'Dum hai to aage aa!', 'Judge Bread' (Stallone, crap your pants. NOW!), '1234 Dracula', among others. The last song contains a heavy dose of Rajnikanth's dialogues, and for good measure. These guys are goofy, unpretentious, hairy, and love to make fun of contemporary pop culture and the stereotypes they create. They make angry music, but they are not intimidating. Scribe, take the floor, and take a bow.

Pick'led': Analyze This, Analyze That, Mark of Teja (the whole album)

A quaint selection of bhideos for the discerning eyes.

Sulk Station: Contentment

The Bicycle Days: '27'

And this is but the beginning.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Reveal

High he sat over the water,
Slowly reaching his hands into the slaughter below.
They were gentle, in their execution,
Almost a sullen feline grace.
It caught his eye, suddenly,
The parable he saw in his reflection.
"This is not mine", he reasoned
With a predicatively waning resolve that had seen better days.
A slow, sweeping glance around and the sight
was revealed to Him,
The sky, yellow with surrender, red with spite,
Merging seamlessly with the ooze crawling out of what was once blue with life.
He was the only one still sitting,
With the rest scattered around, still and seemingly comfortable.
A final laboured effort to look up and exhale with guilty relief,
He afforded himself a smile, before collapsing into the ground.
Still and seemingly comfortable.
The horizon was a straight line, devoid in any indentation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Open a song to settle the heart.
And the windows let the air through.
Can I ask myself another question,
While the record player loops?

A faint smell wafted from where I undid my shoe.
I tried to keep it low.
She said she didn't want to see the orange glow,
So I pretended to settle back in my seemingly juvenile groove.

Helps both ways if you can see through the nook
And crannies too.
Searching for things just out of arms' reach,
The mind conjures images it probably should not view.

Sifting through sand is no job for a cowboy.
Stacked high in shelves like paperwork in a hardware store.
I stole a quick glance while I tried to sweep the floor clean,
And the patch I missed smiled back at me, languid and slow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Places remained

I am not a traveler yet.
I am but a journeyman.
Ambiguous, you might say, but it makes perfect sense.
I trade my knowledge and emotions,
My shoes and my traditions,
For a sense of contentment that we search for; usually vapidly.

Places remained from my memory
Of a time when the hands of the clock refused to budge.
They just moved in the back of my mind,
Reminding this fluid for the lack of a better word.
Like a black swan anomaly.
Like snow in a desert.

The cello creakes silently against the winter sun.
It plays a melancholic polytone as the credits drop
Languidly over the vivid screen of life.
It was a good year and warrants a better start,
But, being human is a deterrent to an otherwise perfect world.
I'd rather not have my epitaph written in stone.
Let it be blank. You are cordially invited to scribble a thought or two.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pillion view

Elvis has left the building,
And Levi's never invented the rivets.
A new idea born out of a juggled mind
Gorged with white lines drawn surreptitiously clean,
Evokes a sense of rapture that envelopes every other sense.

When goals are set to tones
Reminiscent of the licks the left-handed guitarist conjured,
You can safely assume that you have slowly drifted into uncharted territory
That might seem inviting at first,
But gets ugly when the reptiles trudge away, content, and satiated with a full belly.

Ideas set in stone mirror hopes left behind.
Breaks between the glass lets the shallow air through.
The virtue called Grace might just slip through unnoticed
After that lunatic evening by the poolside.
Tend to the soul with a drink by the sea perhaps.

Stare closer into the looking glass once awake.
It is human to delineate the emotions that surface on such short notice.
Brush away that hair sitting brazenly by your lip
And take heart in the fact that the water the tap emits is still comfortably cold.
Takes little time to turn that gift of God into a tepid collection of unwanted muck.

Shoes help us walk with ease,
All the while keeping us inches away from the ground.
We never really 'hit the road' ; We glide nonchalantly over sharp stones and broken pavements.
Forgiveness is a coherent decision to listen,
When we realize we need to reconcile with our indifference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I feel the cold stone floors sometimes,

In my mind when I miss

The abject crying of the 4 month old
Desperately seeking his mother’s assistance.

I remember the public transport and the masters of speed.

Who overcharge, overwhelm, oversteer and overload

Your senses with curses, black smoke, busted suspensions and broken meters.

And then there was the rain.

I recall the nights of relentless staring

At the 17 inch LCD screen that somehow

Held together my monthly wage,

And the daily pack of Navy Cut that I cherished so.

I reminisce about the game nights,

The wanton screaming fuelled by litres of Kingfisher and the proponent of good highs.

A late, albeit goliath bite at the only eatery open at 3 am,

Followed by an afternoon of peace that silently made its presence felt.

I relive those bass-filled drives with

Absent friends and a clear head.

A quick stop at a gas station to replenish the depleted chocolate stock

And pose for photographs with random strangers in the background.

I play the tunes that we used to think we composed

Out of sheer nonchalance and alcohol-induced indulgence.

Don’t take me wrong: we had our moments of pure genius

And more moments of sheer senselessness.

I correlate the good times gone bad and

The bad times that miraculously morphed into the great.

Somehow, between the shades they met with a clear conscience,

Striking a deal to keep misery at hand’s length.

I contemplate the differences and the similarities.

So much of them we had, refusing to let them stand the in way

Of a higher cause that vaguely resembled hope.

The reflection slowly fades, like ripples on the surface

Ease their turbulent energy, pacifying themselves.

Conjoined ideas shimmer under a clear moonlit sky

As friends join hands to pass around a solitary ember,

Wishing the smoke never dissipates.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Silent Departures

It's been a good one year. Landed back in Bangalore sometime in June last year. Headed straight off to Koramangala 4th block to meet the person who provided me with a place to crash and a place to peace out. Found a job with a kick-ass organization and worked there for the next 9 months before making the final, veritable and almost predicatable plunge of pursuing the holy grail for Indian engineers: A Master's degree. It's been a great year.

There are friends, and then there is the BOD. We had humble beginnings, almost nonchalant. Robin introduced Malik and me to Nitin. Then Hemant came in. Then there was Keshav, more affectionately known as Kezman or Kinky Kezman. We bonded over things seemingly superficial, yet somehow managed to percolate each others' psyches by getting to know the others for their habits, for their deeds and misdeeds, for their lack of emotion and sometimes too much of it. We analyzed each other, we criticized each other , and we spoke our minds. We drank expensive whisky, we indulged in rampant indolence, we didn't care for a while, and then all of a sudden we found the group dissociated, but only spatially. 30th May could not have come earlier in my life.

30th May shall be fondly remembered as the day the BOD converged after two and a half years of being scattered across the globe. It was a much anticipated reunion, and much cherished. 

Thanks to ye all.