It’s election day here in the state of Karnataka, India. For those of you who don’t know, Karnataka houses the city of Bengaluru or Bangalore. There’s a slow change that seems to be coming over the attitude of people to elections, at least among the ‘educated’ middle class. Indifference and apathy are giving way to a slow simmering anger which is mercifully translating to some sort of positive activism instead of sneering cynicism. There are new entrants to the political system. Some of these have been working closely with policy making over the last few years and therefore are not susceptible to the wide-eyed naivete of the well-meaning newbie. In them lie our hopes. It’s a tough ask because the known politicos are lost cases and expectations of them are zilch but hope from the new generation of political entrants is high and they will be watched closely for what they deliver; or don’t.
The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” seems the perfect anthem for today. There’s hope yet there’s fear that it’ll all come to naught. We just hope we don’t have to “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss”.
We’ll be fighting in the streets With our children at our feet And the morals that they worship will be gone And the men who spurred us on Sit in judgement of all wrong They decide and the shotgun sings the song
I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution Take a bow for the new revolution Smile and grin at the change all around Pick up my guitar and play Just like yesterday Then I’ll get on my knees and pray We don’t get fooled again
The change, it had to come We knew it all along We were liberated from the fold, that’s all And the world looks just the same And history ain’t changed ‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
Another longish break and yet another return. I was having too much fun with getting ready for the launch of our new venture (there was also a bit of sweat and stress involved, but mostly it was fun) to add anything to this or to my BanteringRam blog in the last few weeks. And in our usual fashion, we’ve set the online store opening for All Fools Day. I’m not sure if the post-launch situation will allow me to be less erratic with my writing but I’ll cross that bridge when it come to me, heh.
I had been meaning to write for a while about our obsession with boxing everything in neat little categories and the lamentable limiting effect of that in our reception of a wider range of music. I will save that piece for another day. What I do have here (to bridge the gap, in more ways than one) is a song that has relevance to that in its breaking of such cages. There are a lot of interesting things happening in Indian film music. Well, actually in the music scene in India in general, but it seems more evident in the film industry simply because of its wide audience and its long-held hard-to-break formulaic approach. These days, however, it’s quite common for you to hear elements of different forms of music merging with ‘stock’ Indian film-style, new and different voices breaking away from the stereotype of the past and composers who’re not afraid to experiment. And to top that, there’s an audience that’s lapping it all up. One example of this is “Jiya Lage Na” composed by Ram Sampath from the film “Talaash” with vocals by Sona Mohapatra and Ravindra Upadhyay that are rooted in Indian semi-classical structures layered over electronica and a repetitive, insistent, near hypnotic percussive beat. Is it perfect? No, I don’t think so. I would’ve preferred a fuller sound to the flatness of the rhythm (even allowing for the compressed version of the song that I have). Perhaps a proper drum ’n bass treatment. But good? That I’ve played it tens of times over days says it all.
On a different note, but still with the Indian link, is this video for “Wor” by Brit indie band Django Django from their debut album released last year. I’ve seen a “Maut Ka Kuan” (Well Of Death) performance when I was quite young. Till I saw this video featuring the Well of Death riders from Allahabad doing the rounds recently I thought it had errmm…died out, quite like the circus (perhaps I’m wrong about that too). The most telling statement (at about 3 minutes into the video) to my mind is made by a rider when he says in the vo “I don’t think I’m a hero. It’s only the audience that thinks I’m a hero”. I suppose you need to be shorn of all notions of heroism when you’re dealing with death. It’s a gripping video, very well done, but I’m caught between being saddened at what some people need to do for a living and being fatalistic like the rider at the beginning who has accepted death, whether he meets it in that well or at home.
This post came about after yet another listen of a Leonard Cohen song, a personal favourite of both my wife and me. It is really an extension of an earlier post of mine featuring a couple of superb pieces of music exemplifying two very different facets of love. Perhaps this would have been more befitting last Thursday but we were not listening to Cohen then, busy as we were with something else. Read the rest of this entry »
This one has taken its own time coming. I had intended this for a couple of months back but something else kept catching my fancy. But then a podcast I heard on BDWPS catalysed my finally writing this piece. There was a bit on Black Sabbath (no, there is only one other, albeit trivial, relationship to this post) on that podcast, on how they had a few more layers to their sound that they’re generally given credit for. Musically and lyrically, it would be a terrible thing to compare Bruce Springsteen to Sabbath. You see, for a lot of people around me, Springsteen’s associated with big, hard rock ’n roll. Having heard the man for so many years and over a large number of songs, that image couldn’t be further from the truth. So that portion on Sabbath was the kick I needed to complete this post showcasing the Boss on slow-burn. And even in that, the man displays so many facets to his music and writing. Read the rest of this entry »
Just a month into the year and we’re already hearing some terrific new music. I don’t easily get excited by musical sound these days. Maybe because I’ve become somewhat of a jaded listener. But the new album ‘Gamak’ by the Italy-born US-based jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa has got this old dog’s ears all perked up. Mahanthappa has become one of the most acclaimed alto saxophonists of recent times. His sense of melody in a lethal combination with free experimentalism reminds me a bit of John Coltrane. A series of excellent albums finds its current peak in ‘Gamak’. The quartet of musicians on this one replaces the piano with the guitar. Mahanthappa’s band-mate in the Jack DeJohnette Group, guitarist David Fiuczynski forms a brilliant, fiery musical partnership with the saxophonist and Dan Weiss on the drums and bassist Francois Moutin lay the perfect rhythm foundation for the other two to explode. Read the rest of this entry »
No, this is not a best of 2012 list. Such a claim would be quite a tall order These are just a few of my favourite sings (sick, sick, sick) from the year gone by. Again, just a few. I had a fabulous start to the year spending time at an NGO up in the mountains. This post acts partly as musical closure to the year gone by. This list is hugely influenced by the fact that many of its entries are not seen together in a single place. And I think these albums should be heard. Read the rest of this entry »