We are not in the music business. We are in the business of emotions,” says Gaurav Shah, frontman of the seven-member experiential band Grasshopper. Entrepreneur, researcher, composer and guitarist, Shah took on the role of executive producer in April 2012, when Grasshopper began recording their first album, and India’s first cinematic psychedelia based concept album, Mirrors of the Mind.
Packed with symbolism, the album’s 10 tracks are meant to create a psychedelic experience for listeners, taking them on an emotional journey to help them face conflicts within. Interestingly, the album was conceived as a screenplay or a score to an imaginary film that unfolds in the listeners’ minds.
“It is the journey of going from a state of Deadweight (track one) where the protagonist feels something is weighing him down until he reaches an emotional state, as evoked in track 10, Weightless. The cinematic element comes from many facets — the album has a linear flow in script. Songs seamlessly flow into the other rendering one continuous experience. The psycho-acoustics and metaphoric lyrics allow listeners to visualise a moment or space that the protagonist is in. That’s what makes it experiential,” explains Shah.
The songs, meant to be heard in succession, are “musical passages.” Deadweight, for instance, is technically not a song. The series of ambient noises, subtle effects and sonic treatments, create a true-to-life experience for the listener. “The Gatekeeper’s Speech 1 and 2 are 12 minutes of pure expression, and Analog Code is a psychedelic chant. Our lyrics are short poems dipped in a bed of sonic textures,” says Shah, decoding their approach to music.
The band lays great emphasis on album art, which done right can capture the essence of music. After rigorous auditions, they zeroed in on Jonathan Key, a multi-disciplinary artist from Sydney, to design their artwork.
“We often reminisce about the times we sat with friends decoding album art, drawing our own interpretations and discussing what they conveyed in conjunction to the song. We would carefully cut the artwork from the cassette or CD case to stick on our cupboard or walls. It was a trip in itself. It makes the music/experience more personal and potent,” reveals the guitarist.
The album, meant to help listeners to reflect on their inner selves, is full of angst. For Shah and the band it is important to talk of the negative as much as the positive in our lives. “We feel society at large, has a discomfort with discomfort. The positive is abundant — be happy, have hope, put your hands up in the air, break into a flash mob. But we don’t see the negative as something that is to be shunned. It is merely the better half of the positive. It is necessary to acknowledge that side to have balance in life,” believes Shah.
This belief has formed the basis of the album, which intends to highlight every listener’s deepest thoughts. “Everyone has an inner cabinet where we hide thoughts we seldom articulate. Not being in sync with this cabinet leads to most conflicts in life. Also, the idea of reflecting on what brings you happiness is not a conversation to be had with a spouse, parent or others. It’s a serious singular, personal, introspective monologue. The album puts up a mirror for listeners to reflect and see what they can find,” concludes Shah.
Mirrors of the Mind is available across across Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, Twitter, iTunes, Samsung and Nokia stores