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Exclusive Premiere: ‘Going Home’ by Gumbal is a Tribute to the 1,700 Kilometer Journey of a Migrant

Arjun Iyer and Satish Sridhar are documenting the different aspects and emotions of the national lockdown on their upcoming album ‘Songs from the Muck’

Anurag Tagat May 26, 2020

Gumbal's Satish Sridhar and Arjun Iyer (from left). Photo: Ashwin Bhatia/The Humming Tree (Sridhar); Himanshu Rohilla (Iyer)

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It’s been just about two months since India went into a national lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Amidst all the anguish, hardship and panic there were also stories for resilience and sheer survival instinct. Mumbai band Gumbal’s newest song “Going Home” takes from a specific journey of 20-year-old Mahesh Jena, who cycled from Sangli in Maharashtra to Jajpur, Odisha during the lockdown, traveling 1,700 kilometers over seven days.

In the process of making the song, Gumbal’s founding duo of composer, guitarist and vocalist Arjun Iyer and bassist Satish Sridhar returned closer to the ethereal, cinematic roots of 2014’s A For EP. “Going Home,” with its flittering mandolin strums, layered vocals and earthy percussion is also reminiscent of Iyer’s solo project Barty’s Path. While Iyer says that their alt-rock leaning 2019 album Armstrong’s List was shaped by drummer Varoon Aiyer and guitarist Siddharth Talwar, their upcoming record Songs from the Muck – written entirely during the lockdown – was “more conducive going back to being a duo.” Iyer adds, “We have no idea what the future holds, what kind of music we’d want to make, and if it means having to involve more musicians to help us realize it, there wouldn’t be a moment’s hesitation. After all, Gumbal means ‘crowd.’”

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Where their previous record concentrated on the U.S. moon landing and its central figure, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Songs from the Muck tells “an internal story, like our own thoughts and interpretations of what’s happening around us.” In April, Gumbal released the bassline-buoyed “REƧUЯFACE,” which became the first single off the album. Understandably, Iyer is making sure “Going Home” and all the other stories are in no way exploitative. “This album is a documentary of things that happened in this period, with each songs talking about one aspect of it. I wanted to make sure I capture this one story of struggle, will and determination as a tribute to all those who are suffering just to get back home,” Iyer says.

Listen to “Going Home” below. Donate to Goonj’s Rahat COVID campaign here.

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