Delhi-based fusion band, Advaita, to finally release debut album after a year’s wait
Perhaps music producer John Leckie had a faint sense of déjà vu when he heard Advaita. If one listens to their music, it’s hard to figure if they would ever attempt covers and if yes what would they play? “Kula Shaker,” most of the band members suggest in harmony. Leckie might have come down to India expecting another Kula Shaker; he did not get exactly that but perhaps a variable of fusion music in Advaita. The band conjures up a cathartic soundscape comprising of eight elements sourcing different musical inspirations. It seems a daunting feat, but somehow mentally, the eight musicians in Advaita have settled their groove – “a natural fusion of western psychedelia and Indian classical,” as keyboardist Anindo Bose, 25, puts it. Advaita (meaning ‘non-duality’) exhibits myriad threads of sound instinctively weaved into each other.
Over its four years of existence, the band has grown exponentially – the band started off with only two musicians, guitarist Abhishek Mathur, 27, and Bose in 2004. The explorative vision of Advaita welcomed a whirl of musicians and today as much as it makes for very rich sound on record, it could get crippling when performing live. In August, the boys gave their first performance for Blue Frog, Mumbai and admit they suffered technical road blocks due to the number of musicians sharing the stage. “We are learning with every experience and are finding ways to overcome this one problem, like using headphones” says drummer Aman Kumar, 27, the last inclusion to the line-up. The canvas for song writing is also very freely supposed by all musicians – “For example we framed the track ‘Miliha’ around a sarangi riff of mine, at times it could be just the hum of a vocalist or a guitar line,” says Suhail Yusuf Khan who handles sarangi duties for the band. Enlightening further on their sound Khan illustrates with the help of three tracks which are on the same scale – ‘Miliha,’ ‘Suspended’ and ‘Desert Rain’ – how they are approached differently and how such subtle variations completely change the sound.
The band recorded its debut album late last year at the Yashraj Studios in Mumbai but had been sitting on it for the longest time for which they give no specific reason. Though now they have signed on to an international mainstream label they wish not to name, and the album shall see its release in October. The album will spread out through old tracks and new ones. By its own judgement, the band believes ‘So Lost’ – which is an 8 minute track – would be the winner on this one. We suggest ‘Miliha’ and we get an interesting analogy explaining where the two songs stand from Mathur: “You remember how Coldplay’s ‘Trouble’ became famous after ‘Yellow’ inspite of the fact that ‘Trouble’ came out before – its like ‘So Lost’ is ‘Trouble’ and ‘Miliha’ would be ‘Yellow.’”
As Mathur says, it’s definitely the age of hybrids, with bands such as Avial and Swarathma mushrooming all over the country. “Though we often fall prey to uninformed accusations such as we take to fusion just so we can market ourselves better,” he says and then adds that a lot of musicians might take that road for the same reason but Advaita is genuine in its intention of embracing Eastern influences. The band has also composed and sent across its first track for Leckie’s project. The song starts off with western undertows moving into Indian sections, Leckie has asked of the band to start the song with the Indian influences bringing in Western hints later. During the conversation we find out that the band does not take part in competitions anymore owing to some bad experiences. “We believe in performing festivals, we did audition for GIR in 2004/2005 and Channel V’s Launchpad. We were rejected in both, and somehow we lost our faith in the judgement of such competitions,” says Kumar.
Abhishek Mathur – Guitars/electronics
Anindo Bose – Keyboards/electronics
Aman Kumar – Drums/percussion
Chayan Adhikari –Western vocals
Suhail Yusuf Khan – Sarangi/Hindustani vocals
Ujjwal Nagar – Hindustani vocals
Mohit Lal – Tabla/percussion
Gaurav Chintamani – Bass guitar