Thursday, December 22, 2005

Indian influences, western influences, whatever…

Everybody (well, almost everybody) is talking of making rock music or metal songs with Indian influences. Because they love Indian music? No way. Because it's cool, the in-thing, flavour of the month and everybody is looking to subtly pigeonhole himself into some convenient niche. And most of these guys are from India! Songs with Indian influences….heck, that’s what the firangs are doing, and they’re doing a much better job, thank you. Songs with Indian influences…bah! The way it’s done here? It usually starts at adding a Sanskrit verse or shloka, carries through (if at all) with a nominal part played by an “Indian” instrument and stops at making obscure references to somebody or the other from our vast bank of mythological characters. And that’s the Indian influence. Full stop. Context be damned. Ok fine, so they don’t want to go beyond hard rock or metal. Fair enough. So then, considering we’re all Indians here, shouldn’t the attempt be to make Indian songs with western influences, if you so badly want to pound that bass guitar and crank out a mean riff?
Or junk all the crap, and just go, make a great song mate! Influences be damned…

Take these guys. Mallus from Cochin. Phugg, they’re good. They’re called Avial and the song is called Nada Nada. It’s an out and out rock number. And it’s in Malayalam! It matters not whether their other stuff is in English and if it is good or not, this song kicks some serious ass, and this is what all the phuggers out there who want Indian influences or western sounds (or whatever combination) should be aiming for and trying to go one better. Avial’s Nada Nada – great song, and a good video to boot. Go ahead, take a look and have a listen. The video is by Poor Man Productions, Chennai and it’s available fo download from their site. Click and choose from hi-quality (512 kbps/19 Mb), med-quality (350 kbps/12.9 Mb) or lo-quality (150 kbps/5.7 Mb). Of course, there are other great musicians and good bands who've done this (and for the most part ignored by the english-o-phile elitists amongst us). But for now, and since this is so damned convenient, Nada Nada by Avial will do.

And here to give his opinion(s) on Avial’s Nada Nada, please welcome Ajay Menon, hard-boiled mallu, music lover, great copy writer, old monker and general leprechaun-hunter-at-large.
Ajay Menon: “Indian rock. There’s always a little negativity in the air when listening to one of them. Because it’s detached, metropolitan music experienced by the few brown Indians trying to sing the white man’s music. This white noise runs through all… but a few select bands in India.
The other extreme… when guys do everything Peter Gabriel in one track. Everything. It’s for the guys within the band and not for the song. It’s overdone and done with.
But somehow Avial manages to evade this by playing to the song with Nada Nada. A steady act with some eager rock. And the mallu vocals just add to this. The song simply stands out as an Indian act without going overboard in any department. A balance difficult to replicate but a gem of a rock song.

The same goes to the video which is brilliantly produced. The only complaint: could have done without the mallu-boy-beaten-exercising-and-getting-back. But then as the song says, “walk on” … it will play in your head.

Gratitude to Hamish, Rahul and Robbie for introducing the band to us."
And the shenoy agrees. Dhanyavaad.

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