Neel Adhikari’s playlist has 2 albums on loop this month. Find out!
Getting in to the studio to record our music has rarely been a planned activity. But every time we have stuck to a plan, the results have been rather ‘mind blasting’ as Russell Peters would say. So this time, we came in with an airtight plan. Everybody in the scene was at the top of their game. We all shared a responsibility to make this work. So we went to Blooper house studios and worked out with Ryan, the engineer with whom we could record completely live, the old fashioned way. We wanted to capture energy and vibe, not make measured, pretty music. This would be a complete contrast to our last one.
Things went smoothly and we had five songs recorded live in two days. Energy captured, beauty felt and technically as tight as I wanted it to be. After all, we were all part of a collective consciousness, a virus, if you will. But it was really and objectively just a phase. Stage two for our Indie scene. People have stopped caring about rags to riches recording deals. Those are only for talent shows where you would get judged by someone who doesn’t get your vibe and is only picking faults. Mythical things. So, DIY, and make the internet your bitch. At this point I can name 10 artists who have just released or are recording to release their music online.
Actually, make that 17. The Supersonics, Ifs and Buts, Freshword, Ganesh Talkies, Amyt Datta, Nitish Batra, Tajdar Junaid, Nischay Parekh, PINKNOISE, and both my bands (Gandu Circus and Neel & the Lightbulbs), from just Kolkata. The Vinyl Records, Dosser’s Urge, Tough on Tobacco, The Bicycle Days, Passenger Revelator and Shaa’ir + Func from the rest of the country, just to name a few. That’s 17 bands and artists sitting on the conscious part of my memory. Then, there are a hundred “Oh yes, I forgot to mention them!” in my subconscious mind.
Recently I have had two albums playing on a loop – Tajdar Junaid’s What Colour Is Your Raindrop and Nischay Parekh’s Ocean. Both debut albums, both mixed and mastered abroad, and both a complete departure from the attempted mainstream rock sound which has plagued our Indian scene for a while. Hearing music like that grow in your own backyard makes every musician or songwriter want to record.
What Colour Is Your Raindrop was unpredictable and interesting on the first listen. It flitted between my consciousness and subconscious, shifting from instrumental pieces to songs. The album begins with one of Junaid’s early songs, Though I know (which he sings himself), starting off things on a personal note. The chorus hook stayed with me long after the album had played through. It moved into a melancholic journey where the beginning of every song would surprise you just a little with a wide number of instruments like the charango, ukelele, sarangi, violin, mandolin, glockenspiel, acoustic and electric guitars, along with drums and bass and other percussions. Avinash Chordia plays most of the drums and Vishal Nayak from Berklee plays on a couple of songs. Then we enter the space age of intergalactic (actually Atlantic) file transferring. Greg Johnson from New Zealand sings Mockingbird while two Instrumentals Prelude to Poland and Dastaan will feature on award winning film maker Jeffrey Brown’s next film Sold. Bangladeshi legend Anusheh Anadil sings Ekta Golpo along with Satyaki Banerjee; the song has the feel of a bunch of friends having a fun bedroom jam. Although adopted from a ‘Brecht’ piece, composer Ajit Pandey gives it the ‘Mohin’ touch. The album ends with a rock anthemic instrumental. The perfect device to leave me with Taj’s Melancholia.
When I switched CDs and put on Nischay Parekh’s Ocean, a quick atmosphere re-adjustment happened. It suddenly lifted the delicious gloom that Taj had so subtly installed.
From the time you hear the first note of the first song, the tone is set. No betrayals or digressions followed. Nischay’s angelic voice reminded me of Christopher Cross’s but with a contemporary conciseness. I would place the music at the sweet spot where analogica meets electronica on a Sunday afternoon over tea. The tone is sardonically happy yet melancholic. The writing is contemporary and dry, yet, emotive and old fashioned. When a body of art contains so many polarities, I feel it ends up being global. The arrangements use drums, bass, some very uncommon guitars, keyboards, vocal textures and electronic manipulations of sound. To the credit of Jivraj Singh, and Nischay himself, they pull it off live very well too. Jivraj’s stunning groove work places this album on the cutting edge of international pop. I hate binding music into genres but this album takes Indie mainstream. The attention to detail in the musical performances and their capturing, even apart from the stunning production, makes it so.
BBC Radio One’s stalwart ex-engineer Miti Adhikari wore the producer’s hat on this one. Apart from mixing the album, he plays bass and programs some of the electronics on some of the songs. Pedro Zappa played the rest of the bass while Dylan plays keys. Nischay himself did all the guitars and vocals as well as several other instruments that he used to make the texture thicker. Dylan is now in India to do a tour with Parekh and Singh to promote the album. I won’t get into the individual songs here because every one of them is brilliant, my favourites being Newbury Street and Ghost. The early releases of I love you baby I love you doll and Ocean on NH7 have made the songs hits already. The album is now streaming on NH7’s Audiolyser. The art is done by Yashasvi Mathis from Mumbai, who has complemented the prodigy’s love for animals with brilliant design and art.
This one definitely is one of my favourite Indian English albums right next to We’re not listening – Pentagram, Maby Baking – The Supersonics, and Colourblind.
In this context, the best we can do as musicians is to create, record and publish (any which way we can), and add to the growing body of our infantine music scene. As consumers of this scene, the least we can do is land up for the gigs after hearing the artists’ songs online. That works for both sides of the stage.
Enough writing. Word pad off. Music Software on.