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The Bodhisattwa Trio Launch New Album ‘Heart of Darkness’

Kolkata guitarist Bodhisattwa Ghosh on using “bad mics” and experimental photography on his band’s second experimental/jazz rock album

Anurag Tagat May 23, 2016
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The Bodhisattwa Trio from Kolkata Photo: Courtesy of the artist

The Bodhisattwa Trio from Kolkata Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Just how dark, raw and visceral did Kolkata jazz guitarist Bodhisattwa Ghosh want his new album, Heart of Darkness, to be? About as dark as damaged recording microphones and samples of record player static can allow it to be. And it took the Bodhisattwa Trio ”“ also comprising drummer Premjit Dutta and bassist Bijit Bhattacharya ”“ about eight months to put that all together on their nine-track album, which releases today. Says Ghosh, “It was all recorded live. We did take after take, scrapped a lot of stuff if we were not happy with the song.”

Heart of Darkness, which takes inspiration from both, author Joseph Conrad’s novella of the same name and its Marlon Brando-starrer Hollywood adaptation, Apocalypse Now [1979], is a tumultuous sonic trip that swerves unpredictably between jazz, experimental rock and lo-fi. Ghosh says of inspiration, “It’s very personal. I went through a terrible time of my life last year; I really went through a lot. That’s why I called it Heart of Darkness, because that was the direction I wanted to go in.” Ghosh says his personal favorites are the second track “Transcendence” and “Blues for Polo,” which the guitarist calls the jazz ballad on the album. Formed in 2012, the band released their debut album, Intersections, in 2014.

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Released on Kolkata label Amuze Records ”“ which previously included a live take of the title track on their Foxtrot Project compilation last year ”“ Ghosh also roped in his friend and photographer Shan Bhattacharya to create a multimedia package. The album is as much a photobook as it is a music album, says Ghosh. He adds, “Shan is into abstract photography. When I heard these songs, I visualized that I would make something like a one-hour film, but since that wasn’t possible due to budgets, I gave Shan the songs and asked him ”˜What do you think?’ He said he could visualize it. Multimedia is much more effective. Because the music is so intense, I wanted to have one more medium of interpretation to make it a little more effective.”

The Bodhisattwa Trio launch Heart of Darkness in Kolkata with a special auditorium show at the Max Mueller Bhavan that also includes a photo gallery exhibition by Bhattacharya. The trio will jam with veteran guitarist Amyt Datta, followed by shows in Mumbai [June 9th] and Pune [June 10th] featuring composer and jazz guitarist Ehsaan Noorani and in Bengaluru [June 12th] with Bruce Lee Mani from rock band Thermal and a Quarter. The tour will wrap up in Delhi on June 14th. Unlike all the other cities, Ghosh has chosen a Monday to launch the album in Kolkata. He jokes and says, “Mondays never have gigs anyway, so people should come. They don’t have any other excuse. It’s an auditorium show, which is even better. I’ve found that if a place serves alcohol, then people are more interested in drinking and having fun rather than listening to the music. I really wanted to have the entire attention on the photography and the music.”

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Bodhisattwa Trio ”˜Heart of Darkness’ Launch Tour

May 23rd ”“ Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata

June 9th ”“ Blue Frog, Mumbai

June 10th ”“ Blue Frog, Pune

June 12th ”“ Blue Frog, Bengaluru

June 14th ”“ Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi

Listen to a teaser of the album here. Buy Heart of Darkness on OKListen.

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