Ahmedabad’s Mukt Adapt India’s Poetry Greats for Debut Album ‘Jogi’
The seven-track album pairs monstrous rock-fusion with themes of introspection, communalism and war
For Ahmedabad fusion band Mukt, “writers are our rockstars.” Their debut album Jogi, a labor of love made over the span of two years (which also included a partially successful crowdfunding campaign), presents ideas of liberation, hatred and peace and delves on larger philosophies of life across seven tracks.
Drawing from poetic works that span centuries, vocalist-guitarist Tarun Gagdekar tells us the aim of the concept album, “These poems, of varying time periods by different writers, as old as 15th century poet Kabir to the contemporary poet Ashok Anjum, yet every word of the album makes sense and holds remarkable relevance in the current world.” The band, who came together in 2013, also comprises vocalist-guitarist Udit Bhavsar, percussionist Dhaval Yadav, drummer Yash Joshi and bassist Raag Jadav. Tabla artist Joby Joy also features on the album.
In some ways, Jogi is a laborious listen that twists and turns, with each track crafted well over the six-minute mark. But the reward is in Mukt’s journey across different styles – from the menacing “Doosra Banwas” (which adapts Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi’s “unknown perspective” marking the demolition of the Babri Masjid) to the upbeat “Khajoor” (“a doha collection of Kabir tells you that any privilege you have is of no use, if you cannot help the ones in need,” Joshi says). The band mulls the fruitlessness of war on the cinematic “Andhayug” which features lyrics adapted from Hindi poet/author Dharamveer Bharti’s vision of Indian epic Mahabharata. Bhavsar adds, “Every poem speaks for itself with full conviction and power.” In terms of challenges, Jadav says, “All poems have a meter to it, and it was highly challenging to get the music around it follow the meter that the poet must’ve had while writing it.”
Sonically, tracks like “Garaj Baras,” “Saazish” and “Nadi Ka Behna” point to another influence as well – that of India’s seasoned fusion band Indian Ocean. The band is upfront about it and sees any comparisons as a badge of honor. “Since the day we got a glimpse of independent music, Indian Ocean has been the closest to our hearts,” Gagdekar says.
Mukt called on Indian Ocean’s drummer-percussionist and vocalist Amit Kilam for their video interview series Under the Bridge with Mukt, which has also featured the likes of activist, dancer and actor Mallika Sarabhai as well as Gujarati literary figure Tushar Shukla. The fourth and final episode of the series brings in Mumbai-based recording engineer Drona Acharya and the album’s mixing engineer, producer-guitarist Keshav Dhar (from prog band Skyharbor). Recorded at Compass Box Studio in Ahmedabad, there will also be glimpses of their production process in the episode. Bhavsar adds, “Along with that, we are working on a series of videos that will give our listeners an insight to the seven exceptional poets featured in our album.”