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Avant-Garde Act Serpents of Pakhangba Debut Live at Control ALT Delete 12

The Mumbai act co-founded by guitarist and producer Vishal J. Singh are also prepping to release an album later this year

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Anurag Tagat Feb 02, 2020

Mumbai-based avant-garde/experimental act Serpents of Pakhangba - Fidel Dely Murillo, Aruna Jade, Vishal J. Singh and Manas Chowdhary (from left). Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Ask multi-instrumentalist and producer Vishal J. Singh about his project Serpents of Pakhangba and he’d call it avant-garde. Singh calls it a “more accessible Amogh Symphony,” referring to his long-standing experimental project that’s traversed countries and genres.

Serpents of Pakhangba, however, stays within Mumbai. Formed by Singh and seasoned bass player Manas Chowdhary (who’ll also get on didgeridoo duties), the band comprised Panama-origin percussionist-drummer Fidel Dely Murillo, sitarist Dhruv Mody and vocalist Madhura Risley. After releasing their debut self-titled EP in early 2019, it was only later in the year that Mody and Risley left Serpents due to other commitments. Singh says, “Madhura was in the first EP, Dhruv Mody came in from New Zealand to play sitar.”

Recalling the unpredictable energy of bands like Mr. Bungle, Serpents found a worthy new vocalist in Mumbai-based Aruna Jade (formerly of vocal group Aflatunes). Singh recounts the audition process, “I actually separately called Aruna and asked if she was enthusiastic about new vocal techniques. She asked what kind and I sent her the first EP and she said, ‘Dude, I’ve been listening to these songs every day since it’s been out. I love this band!’” Working with new demos, the vocalist took a month and drew from metal growls to Mongolian throat singing and more to clinch the spot.

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Their latest single “Headhunters” is testimony to just that – there’s manic, irony-heavy vocal delivery over a signature rock and metal arrangement that never stays in one place. While Serpents were keen on taking their sound live for more than a year now, the sound is understandably something that has few takers in the club circuit. Singh says, “We tried venues, but the clubs and pubs had a mixed response. It’s understandable because you won’t get it until you watch it performed.”

They finally get their live debut on February 2nd at crowdfunded festival Control ALT Delete in Mumbai. There will be songs off their first EP as well as songs like “Headhunters.” Unreleased material off their upcoming album (due in March) includes “Vultures,” “The Forest Belongs to the Maibi” and more. Singh adds, “I’ve been training the band for almost a year.” He describes the performance as “uncontrolled chaos and controlled chaos.” Singh adds with a laugh, “Plus we have a drummer who doesn’t stop.” Bringing in themes of war, tribal practices, human greed and more, the 45 minute set might just be the standout set at the festival. “We don’t feel afraid of speaking our mind,” Singh says.

Watch the lyric video for “Headhunters” below. 

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