Barnana H Sarkar reviews mood music for our times from Kolkata’s new rockers
Most people listen to music, attend concerts, or even compose their own sound because music has that strange ability to take us outside ourselves, to help us momentarily forget everything else. Some musicians take it upon themselves to give their listener those precious moments of oblivion and two bands from Kolkata, with their new EPs, aim to do precisely that for their listeners using psychedelic rock and polyrhythmic music.
The Radical Array Project (also known as TRAP), in their latest EP Obliviate, have experimented with several different genres, predominantly progressive rock, space rock and psychedelia. Inspired by a spell from the famous movie series Harry Potter, the four track EP has been explained by the band as their first try to reach out to people of every type.
The band has not only put much thought into the concept of the album, but the songs are arranged in an order that elaborates that plan. The album experiments with various abstract ideas such as time, mood, hallucinations and language. Take, for an instance, the name Pradosagama, which has been derived from the Sanskrit word for dusk. Interestingly, this particular song is in 17/16 count which in a 24 hour-clock would mean 5 pm/4 pm– the time of approaching dusk.
While most of their songs, like Ilham and Middle Earth, follow a regular pattern, a 4/4 count, there is a break in Middle Earth where the song drifts into an eclectic polyrhythmic pattern. Ihaam on the other hand goes through a smooth transition from a 4/4 to 5/4 count. The song XIX, with its extreme psychedelia, manages to remain at a 19/18 count.
The Radical Array Project has added some fresh sounds with their ideology to not follow any particular genre at all. However, Enolaton on the other hand, in their self-titled new EP have mixed post rock and electronica to form their own style, calling it Bleak Rock.
Enolaton (which when reversed spells as Not Alone) have always believed in composing something to identify with. They deal with subjects like alienation, media circus and broken communications. Their tag almost goes as ‘Reel is more real’. While almost all the songs maintain a time signature of 4/4, their music is chiefly dominated by the distorted sound of the electric guitar which wraps itself around the jarring sound of the drums. Their sound captures the downbeat mood quite well.
The essence of their songs remains subjective. The song Stabdhota (which translates to silence) deals with a dreamy state of mind. The following four songs are about similar concepts of being a misfit is a crowd and struggling to get a grasp of reality.
Enolaton stands out for their stirring combination of both audio and visual to give their listeners or audience a more sensory experience. Released by Mushroom Entertainment, an independent recording label from Bangladesh, the band has used Bengali for most of their lyrics. Their primary focus has been on their music, which in a way gives their sound a more global perspective. The EP is available in a booklet where they have translated their songs to help them reach a larger audience.
The monotony of TRAP and Enolaton sound is deliberate. It’s vitally relevant to their core audience, the youth of Calcutta who hear an echo of their own lives in the music, an expression of their alienation and a sound for their own generation. Both the bands are meticulous in their compositions, tight with their execution, and above experimental with their forms and genres.