Regardless of their consistently evolving sound that doesn’t shrink back from experimenting, Bangla rock music has been struggling on account of a extreme lack of funds, and an viewers overtly uncovered to movie music on tv and FM radio.
Bengalis within the mid-70s had develop into used to a musical food regimen of Rabindrasangeet, RD Burman, Manna Dey and Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, so when Kolkata woke as much as a distorted guitar enjoying a Bengali music in 1978, they weren’t but ready for the cultural takeover that may occur twenty years later. The primary Bangla rock music — ‘Shono Shudhijon’ — was a part of Ajaana Uronto Bostu ba Aa-Oo-Baw, the second album by Moheener Ghoraguli, India’s first vernacular band.
Although the group disbanded as a consequence of lack of economic success, their chief Gautam Chattopadhyay inspired gifted younger musicians to pursue their desires. A cultural motion ensued, whose first output was the album Aabaar Bochor Kuri Pore (1995), a part of Moheener Ghoraguli Shompadito Bangla Gaan. The rock anthem later went on to ‘Prithibi’ develop into a success, and the remaining is historical past.
Although it was Chattopadhyay’s composition, the people who breathed life into it was the primary line up of the band Krosswindz, which included Neil Mukherjee, the arranger of three Sompadito albums. A 12 months later, Krosswindz themselves launched their first Bengali rock album, Poth Gechhe Benke. A seminal report, this solidified the presence of Bangla rock in Kolkata’s dwell music circuit.
The following six years noticed an explosion within the scene, with bands equivalent to Cactus, Abhilasha, Paras Pathar, Bhoomi, Chandrabindoo, Lakkhichhara and Fossils arising with their very own sounds within the rock format. Whereas Cactus strayed into the blues and psychedelia, Chandrabindoo gave pop music an clever makeover with satirical lyrics. Paras Pathar and Lakkhichhara leaned on the softer facet of the spectrum whereas Bhoomi grew pricey to Bengalis with their people sound.
In 2002, Fossils launched their eponymous debut album and Bangla rock now had a grungy, heavy and arduous rock spinoff. This sound would go on to seize the creativeness of Bengali youth and encourage quite a few bands.
An essential device within the propagation of Bangla rock was the radio. “From 2003, radio help was immense, particularly from Amar FM. One music used to play practically 8-9 instances a day. Throughout the mid-2000s, Bangla rock was boiling,” says Siddhartha Ray (Sidhu) of Cactus. “We hosted the Band-e-Mataram competitors from 2005-2007. So far as the attention may see, there have been long-haired, younger boys with guitars on their shoulders. The venue was flooded!”
Gaurab Chattopadhyay, Lakkhichhara’s drummer and Gautam Chattopadhyay’s son, confirms that he had judged round 130 bands, all from Kolkata, within the second version. The truth is, this competitors was organised with the assistance of tv channel Sangeet Bangla, one other pillar of help for Bangla rock in these days. This gave rise to bands like Eeshan and Prithibi who comprised the second wave.
Eeshan’s quantity ‘Shyamaprasad’ and Prithibi’s ‘Classroom’ unfold like wildfire and have been on the lips of each college-goer. Experimental and progressive parts additionally got here into their ambit — Eeshan introduced a nu-metal sound, reminding one in all Linkin Park, whereas the bilingual band Insomnia launched the town to an alternate, progressive sound with their 2006 album Proloyer Shomoy.
However Bangla rock needed to wait one other three years for a pure progressive sound when Lakkhichhara shed their conventional rock avatar within the album Bishesh Bishesh Ongsho Birotir Por. Although it was extremely appreciated within the music neighborhood, it was not warmly obtained by the viewers which was used to blues derived rock sound that Fossils and Cactus had helped popularise. One other band AlienZ adopted on this path with their album Shwapno Noy, launched in 2011.
Submit 2010, nevertheless, issues began going downhill. “Movie producers realised that they have been pumping in obscene quantities of cash to shoot and report a music. They wanted to get well that cash. So, all FM and TV channel-slots have been purchased up they usually started airing solely movie songs,” says Sidhu.
Immediately, FM channels in Bengal largely ignore non-film music. That leaves bands with solely the web as their technique of reaching their viewers. Nonetheless, this comes with its main cons, as songs get misplaced within the sea that’s the Web, as Chandrabindoo’s vocalist Upal Sengupta factors out.
He additional elaborates on how tv and YouTube modified the consumption of music. “Now, folks don’t pay attention however watch songs. Making good music movies just isn’t simple and desires a number of funds, which most bands don’t have,” he says. “Earlier, Fb was platform to unfold the phrase however now paid promotions get publicity. So, until folks seek for new bands and songs out of their very own will, new songs will stay undiscovered.”
Naturally, the inhabitants that doesn’t have this music thrust of their faces stays largely unaware of its existence, regardless that Bangla rock has been evolving and rising up to now decade.
Among the many new crop of bands, a sure part has leaned in direction of steel whereas others have adopted within the custom of the big-shots. Shnuopoka peddles indie pop melodies with tales about day-to-day life. With one album and a number of other singles, their strategy intently follows Chandrabindoo’s model.
Goshai Gang, which has launched six singles until date, is a proponent of glam rock. They’ve chosen to not stray from the established sound. Even their songs take care of easy themes of affection and life, one thing that the viewers is at all times anticipated to narrate to.
One other band that obtained heat responses is the post-rock outfit A Dot within the Sky, although they didn’t intend to cater to listeners. “Our sound is outdoors the Bangla rock soundscape however individuals are demanding that we proceed on this trajectory. I like ambient sounds and tried to suit it into a number of the songs I had written. And moderately organically, this sound got here into being,” says keyboardist Sudipto Paul, whose bed room challenge was a full-blown band in 2016.
Contrarily, Blood, BadTrip and Kripa have gone in a heavier path with post-punk, grunge and steel taking root. A big change within the sound happened by way of the utilization of double pedals in drumming which lends the music a extra dynamic edge. Kripa’s EP Nirob Agomon (2018) and Blood’s debut album Mukti (2019) managed to ground listeners. The post-grunge sound was lapped up so enthusiastically that one may draw parallels to Fossils’ early days.
BadTrip, however, intelligently focussed on their movies as a lot as their songs. With correct storytelling, the movies ensured that audiences have been hooked whereas the sparse but intense soundscapes regularly filtered into their ears.
However the band which took the bull by its horn is rap steel outfit The Prophesor. Visceral at its core, it leaves no stone unturned to completely categorical itself — be it harrowing soundscapes or blood churning vocals. Their sole EP — Yr One (2020) – just isn’t solely eye-opening however can function a template for different bands that may try this style. Curiously, they put on masks whereas performing.
“The Prophesor is political. The masks enable us to transcend our personas and do issues which in any other case fall below restraints. The songs are principally reactions to socio-political conditions round us,” says vocalist-songwriter Nabarun Bose.
He takes up his pure duties on the keyboard with one other esoteric band Enolaton, who dwell in post-apocalyptic imagery. Their eponymous EP, an idea album, handled a dystopian future which is past existential actuality. The music is experimental and unconventional — in actual fact, they take guitar motifs and reverse it, to create dissonant soundscapes. Impressed by bands like Radiohead and Porcupine Tree, its distinctly eclectic sound might need been too new for the Bangla rock viewers. In order that they shifted gears to English to be able to have an even bigger attain nationally.
Even with such nice music, these bands have failed to realize the form of industrial success that the massive ones have. A serious motive is lack of funds.
“Doing solely unique Bengali songs doesn’t deliver within the form of cash required to crack industrial success,” says Kaustav Banerjee, vocalist of multilingual band The Grooverz, which earns its bread by enjoying company gigs the place Bollywood songs are demanded — a prospect many bands flip away from. This has allowed them to achieve a cost-effective place the place they will lastly give attention to producing and advertising and marketing their upcoming album in a fashion which could make a distinction.
Among the many previous conflict horses, Lakkhichhara has completely reinvented itself with a brand new line-up. The sound can be completely different with contrasting parts of Bengali people and ambient embedded in a rock format. Their lately launched single ‘Kadajawle’ is a wonderful instance of city rock music that may come out of a metropolis with shut ties to its cultural roots.
Insomnia has additionally come again from the grave a decade later to launch songs that had been composed years again however by no means noticed the sunshine of day. Their sound follows the same format that that they had launched years again, however is richer now. The one single launched up to now, ‘Aar Na’, just isn’t as faraway from the Bangla rock sound, as their earlier albums have been.
However the man whose return has injected recent hope into the scene is none apart from the pioneering Neil Mukherjee. Whereas his compositions gained big reputation when Krosswindz belted them out 25 years in the past, he himself was disillusioned with enjoying solely western music and moved away. “Bangla rock is an odd coinage for me. My new songs have Indian parts which Poth Gechhe Benke didn’t have. I remember that my songs needs to be accessible to the viewers, however first, my very own musical curiosity must be happy. I’m the primary filter,” he says.
Certainly, his new outfit, named NeilMukho, performs music that’s not restricted to a singular style. The 5 singles he has launched up to now 12 months have parts of Indian classical, flamenco, Latin and African music. The music ‘Dekhi Barey Barey’ is the primary occasion of bossa nova being utilized in Bengali songwriting.
Regardless of concerted efforts to not let this music attain lots, it finds its approach to those that actually consider within the spirit of Bangla rock. On the 2017 version of the ‘Mirchi Jalsaghar’ live performance, organised by Radio Mirchi at Nazrul Mancha, the viewers sang everything of Fossils’ music ‘Khnoro Amar Fossil’ whereas the band simply performed the music. This music was a part of the album Fossils 4 (2015) which had not gotten radio airplay, but the viewers knew it by coronary heart.
So when Gaurab Chattopadhyay says that ‘Bangla rock could be very a lot current regardless that it is probably not mainstream anymore’, one is persuaded to consider him. “Even in the present day, once we carry out in locations outdoors Kolkata, it’s best to see the response of the group when the primary be aware of the distorted electrical guitar rings out. They go berserk! It’s important to go and test it out to know how deep rock music has reached on the grassroots stage.”