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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’


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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.”

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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