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Album Review: Cactus – Blah Blah Blah

The Bangla rock band continues on the prog rock path carved out from their previous album

'M, d, Y'
Shamik Bag Dec 03, 2013
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Kolkata-based Bangla rock band Cactus.

Kolkata-based Bangla rock band Cactus.

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Album art for ‘Blah Blah Blah’

Perched right atop the heap of Bangla rock bands in Kolkata and Bengal, Cactus makes a fitting statement with their latest album, Blah Blah Blah. Might as well, for Cactus, exactly 20 years since they first arrived on stage, they can truly count themselves as pioneers of rock’s vernacular form in Bengal.

It is wished though that the thumping affirmation of renewed intent (the band, in an earlier phase, was being written-off for its tedious tunes) that they exhibit in the first five tracks would continue with the remaining three. “Mon,” “Neel” and “Noya” — notwithstanding their inherent attractiveness and interesting rearrangements — are nothing but tweaked-around versions of their old hits, better served as live performance material than studio album songs. A band that has been in business for two decades, with merely four albums and a soundtrack [2003 film Nil Nirjane] to show, could do with some more original energies.

That should take nothing away from the brute volcanic force of the opening title track. “Blah Blah Blah” is reason enough for renewing faith in Bangla rock, so clinical and powerful is its wholesome dissing of political life in Kolkata and the political purveyors of blah blah blah rhetoric. A grueling riff, whiplash of a bass line and heretical guitar work complements the bristling lyrics. Having earlier made overtly political pronouncements [like “Buddha Heshecche (Buddha Smiled)” from their 2004 album Rajar Raja],  the title track cranks up the dissenting knob by notches. Backed by beguiling keyboard strings and intensely persuasive singing, “Dulche” is about stellar composing — following prog-rock patterns, the song travels through multiple changes and doesn’t revisit obvious melodic hooks. “Shohoj” is richly textural marked by the rounded bass work, mystical keyboard lines, plodding drums and lyrical abstractions. “Status Update” is blemished by adolescent allegories on ‘roses and guns’, while “Boro Deri” is vintage Cactus and tad weary. New listeners, if any, should find solace in the three reworked numbers, especially “Noya,” where the band recompenses by experimenting with structure.

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Having regained its mojo with previous album, Tuccho [2008] — which announced a move towards a heavier progressive rock sound for a band getting too entrenched into sappy ballads — Blah Blah Blah confirms that Cactus is far from withering away.

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