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Mumbai Band Gumbal Space Out on New EP

The space-rock band discover a muse in astronaut Neil Armstrong for their latest EP ‘Small Step’ and its follow-up full-length ‘Armstrong’s List’

Nabeela Shaikh Apr 12, 2016
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Artwork for Gumbal's EP 'Small Step'.

Artwork for Gumbal’s EP ‘Small Step’.

Gumbal aren’t first-timers when it comes to concept albums. Their debut EP A For was a Jungian-esque “narrative of an outcast” who goes on to become the man. Now, their second EP and follow-up album Small Step and Armstrong’s List weave an interstellar space-rock soundtrack which vocalist-lyricist Arjun Iyer describes as “music that Neil Armstrong would have been listening to on the way to the moon.”

Gumbal comprises vocalist-guitarist Iyer, guitarist Siddharth Talwar [also of alt-rock band Spud in the Box], bassist Satish Sridhar and drummer Varoon Aiyer. Like their EP’s namesake, the band plan to take a small step with their three-track EP before they take off with their full-length debut. Iyer cites a number of reasons for two separate releases: to release long-overdue material at the earliest, making themselves heard again in the hopes of landing a gig, and most importantly, to actualize a “very terrible metaphorical pun for the band itself.” “It’s a small step away from the previous one, but a big step for us because it’s our first album as a band,” says Iyer, taking cue from Armstrong’s famous quote when he became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969 [‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’].

Small Step/Armstrong’s List took off from a jam session between Sridhar and Iyer sometime early last year and started materializing in January when the band hit the studio to record the eight-track release that Iyer explains will recreate “all the legendary moments that happened during the space mission.”

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It’s no surprise then, that Gumbal’s sound for the upcoming releases borrows from the art-rock and electro-shock of Radiohead and David Bowie and the pomp of Seventies prog storytellers like Yes, Gentle Giant and King Crimson. There’s the punk-y opener “Small Step” [soundtrack to Armstrong’s blast-off], the spacey disco jam “That Tiny Pea, Pretty and Blue” [Armstrong’s moment of epiphany and nostalgia as he approaches the moon] and the alt-rock straight-up, “Born Under the Second Law”.

Says Iyer, “The entire sound we were going for in the first place was retro, space rock-y and this [the concept] made perfect sense; especially since I’ve also been doing a course in cosmology and astrophysics. So I’m also going to be showing off a lot of jargon and a lot of theoretical concepts.”

Listen to “Small Step” below.

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