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Gig Review: Sapta Live at Tap Resto Bar, Mumbai

Marti Bharath and his band blurred the line between electronic sounds and live instruments in their first live performance in the city

Sairaj Kamath Apr 17, 2015
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Marti Bharath of Sapta performing at TAP, April 16th, 2015. Photo: Sairaj Kamath

Marti Bharath of Sapta performing at TAP, April 16th, 2015. Photo: Sairaj Kamath

April 17, 2015, Tap Resto Bar, Mumbai: The set-up on the stage alone was enough to suggest to the audience at Tap that they were in for something special. As the resto-bar’s in-house music blared through the speakers, a complicated rig full of synthesizers, mixers, touch-screen pads and two laptops could be seen, along with a live drum kit on the side. At an hour ahead of midnight, Sameer Malhotra – host of the ‘Daddy’s Toxic Thursdays’ event that night – excitedly introduced the electronica collective Sapta onstage.

Fronted by producer Marti Bharath, Sapta’s music was inspired by his experiences of living and performing in San Francisco, Paris, Dubai and India, and was a blend of Indian and Western influences. Bharath had been producing Sapta’s music since 2007, with the India tour being their first stage appearance as a group.

Sapta wasted no words and launched into a slew of tracks centered on their 2013 album The Sound of This Nation. An intro of choral voices and sweeping strings gave way to stabbing synths, deep bass and funky rhythms as Sapta built up the energy. Sure enough, the small crowd that had showed up for the gig danced to the massive beats and rhythm-led sound of Sapta.

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The group started their set with just Marti Bharath and Maalavika Manoj aka Mali on synthesizers, with drummer Tapass Naresh, singer Mridula Shekhar and Shravan Sridhar on the electric violin joining them one at a time on different songs. Shravan’s soulful violin passages really showed off Sapta’s Indian influences, while Tapass’ furious drumming gave a boost of energy to their beats and rhythms. Mridula’s vocals on tunes like “Nation” also brought out some great sing-along moments in the mostly instrumental performance.

As midnight closed in, the audience wasn’t willing to let Sapta end their performance, with Bharath’s statement of “I swear, we’re done” being countered by a loud chanting of “we want more, we want more!” The group ended up doing two encore performances, also inviting Swarupa Ananth of Mumbai-based fusion band Filter Coffee onstage to add some Indian percussion.

Sapta will go on to play the second half of their India tour with performances in Pune on April 17 and in Bangalore on April 18.

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