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'
Scribe: Dum hai to Aage aa
And this is but the beginning.