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Sound From The Hills Bring Folklore and Modern Music Together

‘Liandoa te unau’ is composed and executed by Aizawl guitarist-producer Booma aka Brian Hangsing, from seasoned rockers Boomarang

Anurag Tagat Mar 29, 2021

Aizawl-based band Sound From The Hills. Photo: Screenfarm Productions

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It took two and a half years and several hundreds of track stems to weave together a powerful story of Mizo culture and tribal lore for Sound From The Hills, as seen and heard in the 14-minute release “Liandoa te unau.” At the center of the project is Aizawl artist Booma aka Brian Hangsing. “If not for lockdown, I bet it would still be in my DAW at some unfinished project folder,” says the guitarist, best known for his founding Aizawl rockers Boomarang.

Although a music video was put out in January, Sound From The Hills have been getting back on the gigging front to promote the journeying song. They performed at the Trippin’ North East festival in Goa earlier this month and opened with “Liandoa te unau,” which became a 21-minute hypnotic jam. The original version, however, is an arresting experience that invokes Mizo folk songs about warriors, brotherhood, regal beauty, hunting and more tribal traditions. Booma says, “The video story script was written by a genius and my favorite Mizo writer named Vanneihtluanga and since it was old Mizo, the English translators L.V. Lalrintluangi and Jaqueline Zote had a very tough time and looking back at the video, I too could only understand most of the old language through the English subtitles and re-cherish our Mizo folk and how rich and bold their musical statements were.”

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When Sound From The Hills started out in 2016 and began releasing music, the intent was slightly different, with EDM/pop leaning songs like “Stay.” The founders back then included Booma, guitarist-producer Rothangliana Ralte and vocalist Frederick Lalduhawma. Now, there are as many as nine members and “Liandoa te unau” by itself involved Mizo folk instrumentalists, dance troupes, rapper G’Nie and multiple guest vocalists. Booma says about the project, “Anyone who is doing production can imagine the struggle that my computer has to go through, and surely if my CPU was a person, direct ICU for him.”

Following this release, Sound From The Hills plan to get even more “daring and challenging” with their next project, called “Chanda Mama.” It’s a collection of nursery rhymes which Booma says will be reimagined as “the most violent lullaby in the world,” covering stories of headhunters. “In the olden days of headhunters, the husband was going on a raid, and the wife was singing a lullaby to put her children to sleep. It went, ‘My baby, my sweet one, sleep, sleep little darling, may your father come home with lots of heads from their raid’ and this type will be the lyrical content of the song which is so tribal and beautifully violent,” he says.

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Some of the artistic choices with Sound From The Hills had its origins in Boomarang, but the guitarist says when he tried incorporating Mizo folk stories into the band’s productions as early as 2010, it proved too ambitious at the time due to a lack of resources and manpower. With more cultural events and releases slotted for Sound From The Hills, it’s safe to say that Boomarang is on the backburner. “We are all taking our time off going in our own directions for now. But this year we will release a song called ‘Aizawl’ which is about the beauty of the capital of our state Mizoram,” Booma says. 

Watch the video for “Liandoa te unau” below. 

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