Friday, 18 September 2015

Song of the Roots

Prabuddha Neogi lays his hands on an unusual album that brings together some of the most gifted musicians of our times. The result is something that music lovers never heard before

For one, this album will send you back in time, and remind you of the long road you had taken to reach the other end of the world. It will cover you in nostalgia and renew your appreciation for finer things in life that you may have lost all these years. You’ll start wondering about the roads that you didn’t take at crucial intersections of your life, the decisions that you think were best avoided, and similar things. The album will confront you and perhaps question your reasons for leaving things that mattered to you a long time back. You may eventually conclude that it was worth every penny of the price you paid, but will leave you contemplating nevertheless. It’s much more than basking in the warmth of happiness. 

Once the most prosperous state of India, both economically and culturally, West Bengal has descended to lower depths and trying hard to regain its lost place. Bengalis are still largely trapped in the depths of Tagore. Stagnation has set in again in Bengali music, after the resurgence of the 1990s and 2000s.

Shikawr comes as a breath of fresh air and promises to revive Bengali songwriting, arrangement, composition and performance. The album, surprisingly, had a very limited release. It was sold out within days of the launch, much because of word of mouth publicity. Fresh stock was still unavailable at the time of this review. 

With suitable reminders to global issues, including economic disparity to gender inequality, Shikawr manages to achieve a rare level of sophistication which can be accomplished only by simplicity. The tracks could well have ended up preachy, pedantic and jingoistic. And this is what sets the album apart from guitar-strumming Bob Dylan wannabes, videos of whom flood YouTube by the dozen.

It’s impossible to put into the order the artistes who have come up with this outstanding album. Sahana Bajpaie, who is among the best Rabindra Sangeet singers today, ventures into her first contemporary music album as the lead vocalist. Sahana is also one of the leading folk and sufi artistes of our times. She connects instantly with the listeners in her first song Bari kothaye. Her voice is replete with the passion stemming from the journey she took to London and back home. The soundscape of the album, designed by Samantak Sinha (of Gaaner Opare fame), demonstrates great restraint. His acoustic arrangement speaks volumes about his music knowledge which no techno-distortion could have possibly conveyed. He also sings a duet, Magic, with Sahana, and is a harmonica player, guitarist and backing vocalist in the album. Gorki Mukherjee’s very personal and powerful rendition complements Sahana’s mellifluous voice in Chawl Ekdin. Gorki also sings the very beautiful Super Hero. The album has been conceptualised by London-based Saptarshi Routh, who has also written, composed and produced it.   

Shikawr
Sahana Bajpaie, Samantak Sinha, Gorki Mukherjee
₹ 120
Cozmik Harmony

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The writer is the chief editor of WebPressClub