Advaita Returns To Blue Frog With A New Album Tonight
When New Delhi’s Advaita take the stage at Blue Frog tonight to launch and play songs from their sophomore album, The Silent Sea, the most remarkable thing about the event will be the fact that the eight guys you will see—guitarist Abhishek Mathur, keyboard player Anindo Bose, drummer Aman Singh Rathore, sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, tabla player Mohit Lal, bassist Gaurav Chintamani and singers Chayan Adhikari and Ujwal Nagar—are the same octet who released the group’s debut CD, Grounded In Space in March 2009. Because even in an age when Indian indie is finally getting played on the radio, for an act, especially one with no less than eight members, to survive three years and a whole album without a line-up change is no mean achievement.
According to guitarist Abhishek Mathur, the member’s ability to stick together can be put down to two big factors: not only have they grown tighter as individuals but also as a band. “Our fan base has increased,” said Mathur. “We’re taken a lot more seriously.” If the group ever needs a sense of reassurance, they need only think back to the third weekend of November 2011, when they performed to an audience of thousands at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival in Pune. Just a couple of hours later, the MTV Unplugged episode featuring the band aired on TV screens nationwide; they were part of a roster that included far more established Indian indie acts like Indian Ocean and Rabbi.
The Silent Sea may have taken almost three years to release, but Advaita began recording it soon after Grounded In Space reached the shops. Thanks to the fact that their jam pad happens to also be a recording studio, run by keyboard player Anindo Bose, song ideas often become demos the very day they are conceptualised. As a result, there’s little discrepancy between how a song will sound live and on the CD.
That’s not to say their gigs are short on improvisation. Advaita, as fans know, are like a sub-continental Pink Floyd by way of the Mekaal Hasan Band. The spacey, electronica-tinged folk-fusion rock sounds of their debut are very much evident on The Silent Sea, with a few experiments into new though not completely alien sonic territory. For instance, “Mo Funk”, named after tabla player Mohit Lal whose bols open the song, is not funk in the traditional sense of the genre but it features two things we’ve never heard on an Advaita tune before: Carnatic vocals, provided by Hindustani classical trained singer Ujwal Nagar, and the strains of the Indian harp known as the surmandal. If the songs aren’t as immediate as those on Grounded In Space, it’s because “we’ve stayed away from doing anything too commercial,” said Mathur. “We’ve become more confident.”
And while the group still sounds older than its years—the members’s ages range from 22 to 31—one difference between albums one and two is that the latter seems a fair bit more romantic. So along with typical existential musings such as “Where we come from? Where we going to?” on CD opener “Dust”, English-language vocalist Chayan Adhikari also pines for an unnamed someone on “Gorakh” asking “Where are you? I’ve been looking all over”. According to Mathur, there’s more “love, longing and separation” examined on The Silent Sea, which he described as “a more serious album” because “we’re also older, we’ve seen more of life”.
Perhaps it’s that maturity that makes the band one of the most disciplined around. Despite having other jobs as freelance composers, session musicians and music teachers, they practice a minimum of three times a week. “That’s fixed,” said Mathur. ”The good thing is that we all like to write music. That motivates us.”
The Silent Sea by Advaita, EMI, Rs295. Buy it from Flipkart.com.