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Hear American Psychedelic Act Queen Elephantine’s Wicked Album ‘Kala’

Formed by Rhode Island-based Indrayudh Shome, the band draws from multiple interpretations of ‘kala’

Anurag Tagat Oct 31, 2016
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Queen Elephantine - Brett Zweiman, Ian Sims and Indrayudh Shome (from left). Photo: Courtesy of Transcending Obscurity

Queen Elephantine – Brett Zweiman, Ian Sims and Indrayudh Shome (from left). Photo: Courtesy of Transcending Obscurity

Born in Kolkata, shuttling about India’s metros and moving to Hong Kong, Singapore and eventually New York and Rhode Island, guitarist Indrayudh Shome probably mines a wealth of cultural experience (and riffs, of course) for dark drone-influenced doom, psychedelic and metal projects. 

The Providence-based psychedelic act Queen Elephantine ”“ which Shome co-founded with a Canadian expat  named Danny Quinn in Hong Kong in 2006 ”“ draws a lot from India. Their eleventh release, Kala, is most probably earning its concept, theme and title from the early days Shome spent traveling with his mother, a classical dancer, for her performances. He says he was “crawling around ancient temples as various masters’ music and dance shook them alive.” 

He describes Kala as “something of a hologram”, which is apt for its mind-expanding experiments with drone guitars, lumbering bass lines and mystic atmosphere. Shome says, “The meaning changes depending on how you say it””pronunciation is critical in Sanskrit””and we draw from the entire nebula of concepts.” He points to how “kala” can mean everything from art (“kalaa”) to time (“kaal-a”) to the color black (“kaalaa”). He adds, “I’m not sure if any of this gets us any more of an audience though, because we seem forever inclined to push the fusion into uncomfortable territory outside of any one neat, relatable category. Hopefully we’ll break some minds open and take people somewhere new, and I hope India is ready to take this trip with us.” 

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The six-track album requires a seasoned psychedelic fan to really appreciate it, when the regular listeners could just give up on the songs that average at about eight minutes. After all, there are 10 musicians contributing to this album, and Shome counts each one as a member of Queen Elephantine ”“ scattered  across New York, Providence, Philadelphia, Berlin, Hanoi and even Ahmedabad. With that many in the cast, Shome says the project isn’t entirely led by him either. “Although we live in different countries, all of us were in the same room to record the album [in Providence]. There have been a couple of tracks that I’m not on actually, and they’re just as much Queen Elephantine. It’s all in the family,” he says.

The band launches Kala with two shows in Providence and Brooklyn on November 4th and 5th, respectively, playing alongside psychedelic bands such as It’s Not Night: It’s Space. The studio material will continue to roll on. Shome says, “On the 6th, we’re going in to do a studio session for the legendary radio station WFMU. We’ve also recorded a [trip hop band] Portishead cover, and next on the plate is a dirty new album tentatively called Gorgon.” 

Listen to Kala 

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