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Sukanti & Anushree Revisit Folk Classics on New Album

The Kolkata duo present their versions of traditional songs from Bengal, Punjab and Sindh on ‘Centurion Relay’

Riddhi Chakraborty Mar 29, 2016
Sukanti & Anushree. Picture: Courtesy of the artist.

Sukanti & Anushree. Picture: Courtesy of the artist.

Kolkata Earth electro duo Sukanti & Anushree make a powerful case for the preservation and interpretation of folk music. “Our understanding of traditional folk music will pass on to the next generation. It’s like passing the baton,” says vocalist Anushree Gupta. On their latest album, Centurion Relay, the duo revisit some of the most popular folk songs from North and East India. These include compositions that have been widely adapted in film songs, indie music and TV shows such as Coke Studio — “Kattey” [Rajasthani], “Damadam Mast Kalandar” [Punjabi] and “Shundori Komola”[Bengali] among others.

The cover art for 'Centurion Relay'

The cover art for ‘Centurion Relay’

Never mind the choice of already popular material, Sukanti & Anushree are able to stamp most of these eight songs with their own distinct sound to create something new. While “Damadam Mast Kalandar” is an improvisational jazz-leaning track, “Krishno Preme” is a shadowy rock song with haunting riffs and synths. “Shundori Komola” is a feisty rock anthem with ample distortion guitars. But the one thing that stands out in the entire tracklist is Anushree’s commanding and versatile vocals; each track features a new quirk in her voice which catches the ear almost instantly.

While their debut album Ashmaan — which released in 2013 and comprised eight original songs — was quiet and more intimate, Gupta feels that Centurion Relay allowed them to experiment with their sound and take greater risks. It helped that her taste in music was almost divergent from her music partner, Sukanti Roy, who also plays guitars for Kolkata alt-rockers Cassini’s Division. “It made us look at it [the recording] like recreating the songs instead of just covering them.” On Centurion Relay, the duo have also carefully picked folk songs that have inherent messages that hold true even today. “A lot of these folk artists were integral in changing and writing about socio-political situations in our country which are still relevant,” says Gupta, adding, “It is why we made music that marries yesterday with today.”

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Buy Sukanti & Anushree’s album Centurion Relay here.