Rock & Roll’s Literati
Ten years in, Kolkata based Cassini’s Division to release debut album
Album: Ring Side View
Due Out: September
Kolkata band, Cassini’s Division’s frontman, Rahul Guha Roy, makes for an incisive interviewee: In a slightly brisk tone, his ready responses roll quick and easy. Roy’s vocational background of a political journalist, and his culturally rich experiences ”“ which take from places like East Africa, Shillong, Kathmandu and Kolkata ”“ impress upon the qualities of this ”˜worldly wise musician.’ While in the studio, Roy is described as being “quite mad” ”“ suggestive of a creatively productive eccentricity ”“ by music producer Simon Henderson. Outside the studio, his more prudent outlook explains why Cassini’s Division is recording its debut album, Ring Side View, after ten years of being around. “The album was always on the agenda but we didn’t want to get into an independent release. We always wanted a full-fledged label to back us up in terms of promotion and stuff. English language rock music is a niche genre here, and there is no point in releasing an album without the financial wherewithal and muscle to distribute and promote it. The other thing was to record it with a world class music producer,” says Roy. With music label SaReGaMa backing this release and Henderson producing it, the band is finally going to give its fans something for keeps.
The album shall mostly feature tracks like ”˜Story of My Life’ and ”˜Rumble’ from Cassini’s Division’s existing repertoire. Roy crisply defines the album as an entangled mesh of perspectives and subjects. “Lyrically, the album is based on the concept of the ringside view which is inspired from the gladiatorial theme. Like the audience in a coliseum, we are looking at life; while we live it we also play casual observers and make various inferences,” he says. “So each song on the record is about completely different things. It’s not rife with angst, brimming with beauty, overtly socio-political or a fun drive down the highway – it pretty much features every shade of emotion. All the stories are about perception and reality, each told in a different way,” Roy continues.
Henderson, who was introduced to the band’s music while working as a music production manager at Sutasi (a Pan-Asian talent hunt show in which Cassini’s Division participated) says he was drawn to the “incredibly unique,” “innovative” and “sellable” quality of its music. “They successfully marry all these different styles of music just like The Police did with rock and reggae, and they do it so harmoniously that it doesn’t sound gimmicky at all,” says Henderson who is also sold on the band’s lyrical profundity, branding it the “thinking man’s music.”
Bassist John Noel Bose suggests the band has been through three stages of evolution while strictly abiding by its signature sound. “During our first couple of years, when we recorded our demo EP Animal Wisdom, we were influenced by the African savannah sound, with a distinct Seventies jam flavour. In the next phase, our sound got heavier while the rapping and tribal/African elements flowed on vocals. We were playing modern rock/metal with hints of dance music,” he says. Roy suggests that the third phase of change is something we will hear on the band’s newer material which is inspired by British rock. Henderson believes Ring Side View is probably the best album he has worked on so far and has been careful not to overproduce it as its strength is its “very organic” nature. Henderson is very excited about helping the band break into the international market with a record he believes “will be a landmark in music.”
While tracks like ”˜Rumble’ score on mass appeal, Henderson feels tracks like ”˜Stay’ and ”˜Glowworm’ nicely explore the band’s essential qualities as “they’ve got all the ingredients in them ”“ the quirky lyrics and hip-hoppy rock.” While the album shall release in India next month, Henderson hopes to help work out a UK release soon.