Advaita aren't just another Indian Rock band. As they ready for another album release, band member Abhishek Mathur takes us through the showreel
What's the hardest thing about trying to mix a raaga with rock?
The challenge is to make it all seamless and not sound forced. I think we've been pretty successful in this regard, but can make it all come together even more. It's not just a technical thing, as we learn from each other daily. The 'mixing' of raaga and rock will hopefully get more and more intimate.
A number of people who have listened to The Silent Sea describe it as more serious than your debut, Grounded in Space. Would you agree?
It is definitely more serious. There was no special effort to do that; the band members are just older, have seen more of life and, in general, have grown as people and musicians.
The band members of Advaita
Eight musicians with distinct personalities must make for clashes in the recording studio. Does that happen a lot?
Some amount of conflict can be good and we do have our share of differences about where to take a piece, but we also try and be open-minded and accept that the Advaita sound is a coming together of all our personalities. We are pretty good at finding solutions.
Where do the songs spring from: Is it an instrument or a particular raaga that initiates the process?
Anything can start off a song - a riff (on the guitar or sarangi), some drum groove or just a beautiful raaga that we really feel we should work with. At times, there are only lyrics. Songs have begun from all the band members at some point, which can be quite interesting.
Is there a track you are all particularly proud of?
Here's a clich �d answer - we're proud of them all. I hope people find all the tracks have something unique about them, because that's what we have tried to do. Hopefully, people will like listening to the whole thing.
The album releases on February 22.
The Silent Sea
The New Delhi-based octet describes itself as an 'eclectic fusion band' which, at least for this critic, doesn't really mean anything. Not long ago, Advaita performed in Mumbai alongside another Delhi band, Indian Ocean. Comparisons must have been made instantly: Raagas? Check. Folk tunes? Check. Great tabla player? Check. Having said that, to call them followers of the Indian Ocean Approach to World Music would be to do both bands a massive disservice. Here's what this critic did instead. He slipped The Silent Sea - Advaita's second album after its acclaimed 2009 debut, Grounded in Space - into a CD player and sat back.
With ten tracks spread over an hour, it came across as an album with a distinctive voice. The opener, Dust, took its time to build, letting all eight members stretch their limbs over 7.21 minutes. Meinda Ishq was a full-on jam session, so enthusiastic that it was infectious. Mandirva opened languidly; with slapping bass reminiscent of The Police performing Walking On The Moon before coming alive two minutes in. The gorgeous Spinning - all sarangi, guitar and lyrics about seasonal change - marked a calm midway point. Gamapanipa was a raucous Punjabi-English track that could someday find itself on a pretentious Aamir Khan film soundtrack. And there was Mo Funk, a feisty beast prowling through the room, promising to be very popular when played live. No, it wasn't like an Indian Ocean album at all. Advaita is an eight-headed rarity with a voice of its own. Please listen to it.
The Silent Sea, Advaita, Rs 295. Available at music stores
Introducing the band
Chayan Adhikari: Vocal, acoustic guitar
Ujwal Nagar: Classical vocal
Anindo Bose: Keyboard, electronics
Suhail Yusuf Khan: Sarangi, classical vocal
Abhishek Mathur: Electric guitar, electronic
Aman Singh Rathore: Drums
Gaurav Chintamani: Bass guitar
Mohit Lal: Tabla, percussion