Thursday 30 April 2020

Z is for Zilch .... Zip ... n ... Zillions

This last day put your headphones on for an old but path breaking band from the 90’s - Bombay Vikings, with their hit number Zara Nazron Se..

And then keep them on for a new one, here’s Zokova live with an untitled track -

The last piece of music in this A-Z series is a jugalbandi featuring maestros Zakir Hussain and Amjad Ali Khan on the tabla and sarod respectively. Both are world famous performers of their instruments. A jugalbandi is a piece played by two musicians in a kind of call and response format.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Y is for ...Yellow ... n ... Yaman ...

First I've a band called The Yellow Diary, relatively young, from Mumbai with a number titled Rab Rakha. Formed about five years ago and already making waves with their style of music which they dub poetry with rock. Take a listen -

Next is a band called The Yellow Bucket, yellow is clearly a popular shade with alternative bands, I know! I had no idea either! :)

And finally something a little different - the raga Yaman played on a guitar and accompanied by the traditional tabla. I found this rendition quite delightful. Enjoy!

Tuesday 28 April 2020

X is for... Xosh! ... Xoly Xow! ... it's Xoubting Xhomas!

You’d think finding music for X, and X doesn’t even exist in any Indian language that I know of, would be super impossible. But no…I have a positive deluge of tracks today. Yeah, I know. I'm as surprised as you are. First, there’s Chronic Xorn a hard metal band from Kolkata with a track titled Necropolis. Not exactly my kind of music, but's X and beggars can't be choosers.

Next I have for you Mysore Xpress with Freedom Rock, the lyrics are a mix of Hindi and Kannada,  languages spoken in North, Central and South India respectively. Nice and peppy for the Independence Day celebrations a couple years ago.

Now put on your headphones for this oldies goldies lilting track from the 2009 album called Xsuie by Lucky Ali. 'My heart keep on singing' is the specific title - Dil Gaye Jaa. 

And finally, this cover of xxxtentacion by chrms rounding off things quite nicely. Take a listen -

Monday 27 April 2020

W is for... Willow... n...Winners ....Widespread...

First I have a very young, teenage musician for you today with a track called With You. Apt! and pleasant on the ears too.

Next we have Warwan with a track called Nishan. Warwan is a relatively young band too. They're based in Delhi and play in the Hindi metal genre. Lyrics are meaningful and the overall sound is great, so even if you can't follow the former, no worries.

Finally, get your headphones on for Woh Hum Nahin, which translates to That’s Not Us, a protest song composed and sung by musician Ankur Tiwari for the recent Anti-CAA protests. The video includes footage from across India and at Shahinbag in Delhi. Jo mazhab ke bahane aapas mein lad rahe…those who’re fighting using religion as an excuse – that’s not us, that’s not us, that’s not us. Moving visuals – I’m always moved by young people taking a stand and expressing themselves. Have a listen -

Saturday 25 April 2020

V is for...Valley....Vivid... n ...Vedic

Today I’m starting with something a little different, an instrumentalist called Veena Srivani playing Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan on the veena, which is an ancient Indian plucked string instrument dating back to around 1700 BCE. Again, you don't have to know anything about the veena to appreciate her fluency and mood-lifting facility on it. You've heard the original song earlier in my B-post (listen again here).

Next I’m giving you Parikrama, a megapopular Indian band, playing their title Vapourize  at the Download Festival, Donington Park in UK. Sadly their lead guitarist, one of the founding members, passed away earlier this year. 

And finally the Vinyl Records with their Ready Get Set Go. Enjoy -

Friday 24 April 2020

U is for ... Unheard ... Unknown ... Unfathomable...

Underground Authority is an alternate rock band from Kolkata, formed in 2010. Their music has elements of reggae, rap and hard rock. Lyrics much influenced by protest poetry and anti-capitalism messages.

This next track called Ungentle is from Bhayanak Maut (lit Horrific Death). They style themselves as a hardcore death metal band - the number certainly lives up to its name!

Finally, this - the grandmother of all Indian music. Ustad Bismillah Khan (1916 - 2006) playing Raga Puriya on the instrument of his choice and mastery - the Shehnai, at a concert in London in 1993. Bismillah Khan is one of the cornerstones of contemporary North Indian Classical music. India woke to independence to the melody of his Shehnai - he played at the Red Fort on India's first Independence Day on 15th August, 1947. Ustad Bismillah Khan has given Shehnai recitals all round the world, I was fortunate enough to be part of the audience when he played in Bahrain in 2002. Ustad, btw, is a honorific meaning Maestro/Teacher used for Muslim musicians, similar to Pandit for their Hindu counterparts. 

Raga Puriya is an evening/night Raga - the Indian Classical music system is based on Ragas/Raginis, which are specific melodic modes created by a fixed combination of notes in a certain progression and with emphases characteristic to that Raga. Each Raga is meant to evoke a certain mood and is played at a certain time of day/season. 

But you don't need to know a thing about Indian Classical, or Ragas, or Ustad Bismillah Khan, to appreciate his expertise and execution and breath control, how he makes the Shehnai 'speak' and 'weep,' his consummate ability to transport audiences. Have a listen - 

Thursday 23 April 2020

T is for Terai...Terrain.... n ... Tree

The first song is a track by Thaikkudam Bridge called Fish Rock – and fish being a staple in the eastern, coastal parts of India, resonated with me massively. :) The second is Tunak Tunak Tun by Daler Mehndi, another foot tapping Bhangra Pop number. Have a listen -

Wednesday 22 April 2020

S is for ... Sent....Science.... n ... Success

Starting today with synthesis - the folk/fusion band Swarathma singing in Kannada, collaborating with Shubha Mudgal. So a South Indian band singing Western inspired music and a singer of North Indian Hindustani Classical blending their disparate styles and languages into a miraculous whole. Sometimes my head spins from the melting-potness of the melting pot that is India. :)

Now for a very different sound - the progressive metal band Skyharbour with musicians from India and USA, singing a track called Dim -

Finally here's Suneeta Rao with a decades old but super successful number Paree Hoon Main from the album Dhuan, released in 1991, which made her name known to every household.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

R is for ... Radio ... Ratna ... n ... Rich

Starting off today with Ritviz...a young musician with a background in Indian classical gravitating towards EDM and hiphop. Followed by Raghu Dixit and then Roga Bolo Na from Chandrabindu which is the veteran band in this bunch. Have a listen.

Monday 20 April 2020

Q is for ... Quaking ... n ... Quailing

Today is the turning point when the challenge gets into difficult terrain, the first of the letters that are the litmus test of survival. And I with my unpreparedness - am quailing and quaking more than usual, what else? But all is still not lost...managed to find a couple things. First, this is by a Bengali filmmaker, music composer and lyricist - Qaushik Mukherji, the lyrics are awful profane so if you understand Bangla and are sensitive then please don't click play. If you don't follow Bengali/are not easily offended - have a listen.

From the controversial avant garde to the pukka traditional - the next number is my only concession to Bollywoody music. However, it is based on a musical form called the Qawwali - an Islamic Sufi devotional which developed in the subcontinent centuries ago and is still sung in the Sufi shrines and dargahs. A very typical choral performance, this has been adapted for use in many Bollywood films. Qawwali uses Sufi metaphors of the 'beloved' and the 'wine-bearer' for God, and the tavern, wine and drinking for the material world. Even if these metaphors are unknown the lyrics can be taken at face value and still feel absolutely riveting. 

The reason why I chose a Bollywood Qawwali rather than an original one is simply because a real Qawwali performance can typically go on for half an hour or more. In a film it is necessarily more compact but less authentic. Note that in the clip there are actual performers 'Qawwals' called Nizami Bandhu who sing at the shrine/mausoleum of Nizamuddin Auliya, a 13th century Sufi saint in Delhi. However, the film has playback artistes singing the song. 

Saturday 18 April 2020

P is for...Poster...Popular.... n .... Page

Long Post Alert! Stop wherever you want to...sections marked off for your easy cherry-picking :)

Parikrama is one of the pioneers of rock and roll - they've been at their music for nearly three decades. Here's they are with But It Rained -

Peepal Tree  with Rosha-e-Kaafile. It's worth mentioning that peepal is the Hindi word for the sacred fig, an actual species. So their name can be taken as it is, or as a pun - whateva...

And finally, a protest song that the recent people's movement against the Citizenship Amendent Bill has generated. I'm not getting into politics here - I have seen the explosion of creative expression that happens during political upheavals, once in Egypt and now in India, and I just love the outpouring of song, poetry, art and the super innovative ways people find to make themselves heard. 

Btw, Poorna Swaraj means 'total independence' (lit complete self-rule) and this was the resolution adopted by the Indian National Congress at its convention in December 1929 so the title is a super famous slogan and an allusion from the Indian Independence movement. 

Friday 17 April 2020

O is for ... Oil ... On ... Options

O Sanam- Sunoh is one of the most popular tracks that Lucky Ali ever sang - you've met him before, he's an artiste from the 90's a bit ahead of his time, some fans feel... have a listen.

Thursday 16 April 2020

N is for ... North ... n ... Navigate

Today I have Nalaayak for you, a young band formed in 2015 in Chandigarh in the North, with a number called Zindagi -  

And then we have the veterans Sonu Nigam and Ila Arun combining popular and folk music from different regions of India in these two tracks from the  90s. 

Wednesday 15 April 2020

M is for...Materials... Marvellous ... n ... Masterful

Have a listen first to Alisha Chinai's Made in India - a megapopular track from 1995, and then go onto a more recent one from MAP. Enjoy!

And finally, Maatir Rong from Anupam Roy, for its evocative visual and lyrics in this difficult locked down time in Kolkata, where my elderly parents are. 

Write...Edit...Publish...+ IWSG April 2020 : Antique Vase

It's been a particularly godawful time between the last posting and this, so it's a relief to get online and get posting for Write...Edit...Publish..., phew! I hope all of you are hunkered down and socially distant, keeping safe and well. These past few weeks have made yet another advantage of WEP further clear to me - it's pandemic proof! 

I'm still kind of hungover from the previous posting, where there was an outpouring of fanwork based on  Vincent van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night.  So I let my mind wander in the same directions for this challenge too, but as usual my wordcount control is pathetic. So the 1000 wordstone is embedded within the text, read till there or go beyond as you wish, totally up to you. I would have split it into two, but what with the ongoing A-Z, I know I'd never get around to posting the second part. So, here goes -

The Grasshopper. The Pigeon. The Bulldog.

The usefulness of the pot lies in its emptiness. ~ Lao Tzu, Ancient Chinese philosopher.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

L is for...Life ... Liberty ... Land ... n .... Longing ...

First, here’s The Local Train, a Hindi rock band with their popular track Bandey, a Chandigarh based, relatively young group of musicians. That's followed by Lakkhichhara - a Bengali band based in Kolkata, formed at the turn of the millennium, so a bit older than the first guys. And lastly, there's veteran Lucky Ali with Dekha Hai Aise Bhi a long ago hit when the way we listened to music was oh so very different.

Monday 13 April 2020

K is for...Kollur .... Kakatiya.... n ... Khilji

Starting with Kesariya by Suneeta Rao today - a mid-nineties track which combined Rajasthani folk music with Rap for the first time in the Indipop genre, a chart topper at the time and still a popular dance number in live shows.

From the North to the South - the next track, Kolaveri Di, is a 2011 internet sensation, composed and sung by Dhanush in Tanglish (colloquial Tamil and English), combining ancient Tamil instrumentation and elements of South Indian folk music. It was part of the soundtrack of a Tamil film and went viral upon its release, not just in India but worldwide.

Saturday 11 April 2020

J is for...Just ... Jaw-dropping

Jahan Tu Chala by Jasleen Royal is the first track I have today, followed by Ae Dil Hai Mushkil by Jubin Nautiyal. The last number - Jimmiki Kammal, is a film track in Malayalam from Kerala, which went viral upon release in 2017 and many dance covers mushroomed. Apparently, US anchor and host Jimmy Kimmel listened to it and shared on social media that he liked the song :)  

Friday 10 April 2020

I is for....Images... Idols ... n ... Intricate...

Here’s Inner Sanctum, a thrash metal band form Bangalore, with a track called Ikarus. Followed by Indian Ocean – they were one of the pioneers of fusion rock way back in the 90s, playing live in Dhaka – a track called Bandeh. Enjoy!

Thursday 9 April 2020

H is for... Hills ... Handkerchief... n ... Home...

First off, I have Ho Jayegi Balle Balle from Daler Mehndi – one of the veterans of Bhangra Pop who’s been singing in this foot-tapping robust genre of Punjabi music since the 90s.

Next is a Bengali track – Hariye Jaowar Gaan, from Anupam Roy, you've encountered him before, a prominent name among the contemporary Bengali artistes – have a listen.

Finally, here’s Zakir Hussain, the finest percussionist India has, collaborating with David Holland and others to play jazz fusion.

Handkerchief, Hills and the Home of Snow.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

G is for.... Genesis ... n ... Gambles

This is one of the first indie rock bands of India with their first song, Gotta Keep Rolling. They formed waaaay back in the 1970s, when the general public was still hungover from Beatlesmania and the ongoing political upheavals in Calcutta n wider Bengal at that time. Read more about The Great Bears  and the genesis of rock here.

And then a fresh new band formed less than a decade ago, here's The Ganesh Talkies with The Great Indian Freak Show.

Ending with Ghawrkuno Ghash from Anupam Roy, a track from a popular Bengali songwriter, composer and singer.

Games and Gambles

Tuesday 7 April 2020

F is for ... Fusion ... n ...Famous Finial...

Firstly, here's Fossils with Phire Chaulo, a well known indie band from Calcutta. Followed by Fiddler's Green singing live in San Francisco - a fusion of West African with Bengali folk, Fatou Yo. Enjoy!

Monday 6 April 2020

E is for ... Enormous ... n ... Exchange ... n ... Events

Enjoy it while it lasts – a good precept! but  also the title of this first track I have for you today, from the band Easy Wanderlings. And then listen to the veteran Anjan Dutta with Ekhono Tai, where Dylan’s influence on Indian contemporary music is very clearly audible. Well, enjoy! :) 

Saturday 4 April 2020

D is for ... Dynasty ... Dexterous ... n ... Decorations

Today I have two heavy metal bands for you. The first is the death metal band called Demonic Resurrection with The Dwarf (Vamana) - they are the most successful heavy metal band from India. I have to say that I admire the concept of retelling Indian mythology through Western music, though my listening taste doesn't lean in this direction.  

The Down Troddence is a band originally from Kerala in South India -

Finally, Dhruv Vishwanath, with a gentler vibe that’s more to my taste. Have a listen -

Friday 3 April 2020

C is for... Charkha ... Cotton ... n ... Colonialism

First I have this awesomely choreographed number from Coshish, have a listen -

Here’s Conductor, another old but favourite hat, from Chandrabindoo in Bengali

Finally, I give you Childhood by Aditi Ramesh, another young musician based out of Bombay who combines elements of an Indian Classical music tradition called Carnatic with jazz.  

Thursday 2 April 2020

B is for.... Buttons ...n... Bijoux ...

It doesn't matter if you follow the lyrics or not, you'll understand the title once you listen. :) Here's Breathless from singer composer Shankar Mahadevan -

And this is a track called Bawra by Naalayak. I suppose I should have given some space to Bollywood here, but I am not so fond of the current filmy music...sorry!  Besides which, Indian music or even films do not equal only Bollywood, as the bigwigs of Bombay film industry would lead you to believe. India has 22 official languages in which songs have been sung for centuries...

And this one is oldies goldies Barandaye Roddur by indie band from Bengal.


Wednesday 1 April 2020

A is for...April...n...A-Z...

A lot has happened since the sign-up and the Theme Reveal! Hope everyone is keeping safe distance and doing well. As in the other years, starting off my A-Z with some music, here are Agnee and All the Fat Children, two indie bands from India.

And here is a collaboration between A.R. Rahman, possibly the most famous contemporary Indian on the world music scene and U2 - Ahimsa.

Welcome to the A-Z Blog Challenge 2020 going on all April, where I'm posting about India in 26 Objects