The only thing definite about Hoirong is the band’s refusal to have its music defined. Ambient, noise-rock, punk, art-rock, post-rock, lo-fi…whatever it is, it’s been high-fives all round for its 2014 release “Dandaniya Apradh”. In its demand to stretch your known understanding of musicality, it holds something in common with “To Be Kind” by Swans (also released this year). Yet in another way “Dandaniya Apradh” is the anti-“To Be Kind”; the latter notable, among other things, for its ambitiously epic duration while the Hoirong album spins you around rapidly on a dozen axes with its packed short bursts.
In the time that I have been following Hoirong, I also get the sneaky sense that the band is constantly cocking a snook at everybody around, maybe even themselves. The lyrics are two liners mouthed almost ad infinitum and to hell with standard verse-chorus patterns. And sometimes so whimsical (even nonsensical) that people trip over themselves to find the meaning of life in those few words. Is the band bullshitting you with
I know, I know, I know
You know, you know, you know
We know, we know, we know
We know na (Wynona?) Ryder
or is it a dig at the name-dropping socialite? One might greet the drunken monologue of “Gaming With Your Hertz” with laughter or one might discover a touching humaneness to it.
The music Hoirong makes is not pretty, it’s not comfort tunes, it’s not the stuff of monstrous chart-toppers. Not everybody is going to enjoy it. In the same way that not everybody ‘gets’ great craft beer or fine Scotch…or karela sabzi. The greatness of “Dandaniya Apradh”- quite like its predecessor “The Resurrection Of The Princess Of Woe And Her Vampire Hound Posse” – lies in its subversiveness, its willful shedding of known notions of what is and what should be, its ability to pull you away to possibilities other than the mundane that you encounter every day. This quartet delivers art without falling into the trap of artifice. We listen to the band, we land up wide-eyed in front of the stage when it plays for that very reason. Or maybe we just like to roll in the mud, we love ugly.
P.S.: Hoirong means asshole in the language of the North-Eastern Indian state of Manipur. Maybe. Quite. And maybe the boys are just having us on. Just. Possibilities.