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Lend me your ears

Sarthak Kaushik | Updated on January 31, 2020 Published on January 31, 2020

Sonic storm: Kendrick Lamar’s follow-up to 2017’s Damn is in the works   -  reuters

All that widens the smile on the face of the rock lover

And so the relentless march of time has stepped into another decade, and that is usually as good a reason as any to cup the ears and listen to the echoes that the time gone by has left behind. The eardrums have had a rather interesting time these past years — and the coming years sound promising, too.

The cusp of the new decade, of course, has polished the already burnished reputation of Prateek Kuhad’s music with the very reputable cloth of former American President Barack Obama’s playlist. The shine, though, has not been restricted to those names that have been brightened by the spotlight from across the seven seas. There have been notable contributions to the Indian music scene by artistes old and new, and they have uniformly widened the smile on the face of the listener.

If the visual world can have the past vs now meme, the aural world can have its own share of experiences to share. The pride of place in this goes to the IITs. The vanguard of technology has, for decades, perfected the art of the “rock show”. From the legendary amphitheatre at IIT Madras to Mood Indigo (or should it be the way cooler appellation “Mood-I”?) in Mumbai, they have been very effective stages for the rebel yell of rock’n’roll. Special mention also needs to be made of the iconic all-night IIT Delhi “prelims” — now sadly deceased — where valiant warriors of the indie rock scene would judge talent that was often a far bigger tick on the enthusiasm box than the talent one. For anyone who occupied any of the seats in the “audi”, the air of anticipation for some bands, and the pall of dread surrounding the imminent arrival of some others, would still perhaps be palpable.

The year 2019 also saw the advent of American rock band Extreme — the rabble-rousers who gave a whole generation the rallying cry of “If you don’t like what you see here, Get The Funk Out” — to Imphal. Which was enough to bring alive the achingly beautiful memories of Rock Street Journal’s priceless contribution to the growth of independent music, the now unfortunately deceased Great Indian Rock Festival.

This was the effort of the late and great Amit Saigal, fondly called papa Rock, who provided a proud platform to the independent rock scene in India. Bands such as Orange Street, Zero (whose album Hook is still pumped with enough raw power to induce goosebumps), Them Clones all made memorable shows happen on the Delhi stage. And to see one of the bands that formed a very critical part of the mixtape generation still kick up a sonic storm was certainly enough to press play on the music that was made on our shores.

The last year of the decade has also been rich in its harvest of great music. Thaikuddam Bridge, Agam and the brilliantly nuanced Peepal Tree from down South have made their music waft all across the map. Blackstratblues, whose 2017 effort The Last Analog Generation made a pretty loud statement for the raw power of talent, has come out with When It’s Time. The tone is still as teeth-clenching, and Jai Row Kavi’s chops are still eye-wateringly nuanced. TheRevisit Project brings Abhay Sharma’s saxophone-drenched funk with a swagger that matches the names of the two albums they have released in close proximity: Brown Man’s Funk and Born In Delhi. And Prabh Deep is still keeping the hip-hop flag flying with wild abandon on his latest EP, King.

There is hope going into the new decade, for Kendrick Lamar’s possible follow-up to 2017’s Damn is in the works. There is also Corey Taylor’s solo effort to clench the teeth to (if, of course, you have already got into the habit of doing that to the high-decibel pleasures he dishes out with his band Slipknot), and Deep Purple’s follow-up to the 2017 InFinite. And since it’s Deep Purple, the fans will always wait with the anticipation of pumping their fists to some brand new grooves crafted on Steve Morse’s guitar strings. Needless to say, Morse’s six-string magic with the Purple hue is certainly a great colour to put to the 2020 playlist. Add to that the prolific work of our very own Blackstratblues, the welcome return of Ankur Tiwari to songwriting with Mohabbat Zindabad and the possibility of more music from Midival Punditz. The 2020 playlist is certainly worth cranking the volume levels to.

(Mad About Music is a new monthly column on contemporary music)

Sarthak Kaushik   -  BUSINESS LINE

 

Sarthak Kaushik is an RJ at Ishq 104.8 FM, Delhi

Published on January 31, 2020
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