Music has the innate ability to evoke images in the minds of the listener – a memory, a story, a landscape, a personal experience or even an extra-terrestrial journey. We are not taught to do this: our imaginations, left to their own accord, act unconditionally and without order.
It was on December 29, 1895, to cover up for the noise of a projector during the screening of a Lumiere Brothers film, that a pianist improvised to accompany the imagery on the screen. It was on this day in history that audiences were introduced to music coupled with images for the first time. In the world of the digital era, music videos and cinema, music and imagery would have a hard time filing for divorce. But when we don’t have these images in front of us, or we don’t have lyrics to go, our imaginations still conjure vast and wild images. We listen to a song and are left elated or melancholic for hours. In this story, I have picked a selection of songs composed by fellow (predominantly) young, independent composers that have piqued my curiosity and stirred my senses.
A lot of the songs chosen have ambient textures and lean towards the ‘darker side’ of life. The list covers images and emotions of love, anguish, grief, elation, beckoning, death, sex, cynicism, and some humor. The interpretations of the songs are my own and perhaps not what the artist is attempting to project. I conclude with a piece of my own and tell the story that parallels it. Perhaps you will hear a different story. A lost woman to me might be a hummingbird to you. And therein lies the mysterious method of music.
Sridhar/Thayil – The Drowning Song
The song starts with a shout out to Sibyllin, the prophet, trying to understand the plight of the world. I imagined a group of people riding the dark waters of the oceans on a ship, the ship being the world we inhabit. The rowers of the ship are a bunch of fools, just like the fools who inhabit this world. The ship is surrounded by sea monsters (primarily the male voice in the song) who are luring the fools into the dark ocean bed. There is one person on the ship who is aware of these fools (the female lead) and that they will eventually drown this ship, thus drowning the world.
Blackstratblues – Newness
The Walk to Duncan’s Bedroom: This track had me imagining Macbeth, with lady Macbeth having just convinced Macbeth to murder King Duncan. The song depicts Macbeth’s walk to Duncan’s bedroom and the various thoughts that race through his mind as he proceeds to his bedroom to commit his crime. The ending of the song depicts Macbeth running out of the room back to where Lady Macbeth is anxiously waiting for him.
The Manganiyar Seduction
This act, produced by Roysten Abel is a story in itself. Watching these men is literally a seduction and I was transported to a walk down the physical Red Light District of Music. Watch the video to live that imagery in your head.
To listen to more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxxdLfawoWo&feature=related
Skyrabbit – Hilltop
This song reminded me of urban Bombay, and no wonder, for the band is from there, a necessary inspiration. The lyrics of the song do not state this, but I image the juxtaposition of urban and rural Bombay, with western and urban sounds and soundscapes creeping into this melting pot of a city.
Karsh Kale – Kajar Bin Kare
Attempting the resurrection of a lost friend. The process involves reliving the memories and emotions that were once attached with this friend.
Ska Vengers – Rough and Mean
This song creates the image of a man and woman having raunchy sex. I just want to give it a caption: “charioteering women, leashed men” because these women definitely do not like to “cook and clean”.
Advaita – So Lost
A wanderer, escaped from his immediate environment, roaming in the wilderness. He has no meaning in his life and is witnessing a severe emptiness that he cannot quite explain to himself. He wishes to wake himself up, and like all of us, search for a destination and his way home.
Peter Cat Recording Co. – Pariquel
As a classically trained pianist, I enjoyed the basic rhythm of a ballroom waltz. I imagined myself doing a ballroom waltz (and surprisingly being exceptional at it) with a woman whose face was covered/maybe headless and walked away from the dance still not knowing who the woman was. I wonder, “where did she go?”
Shantanu Pandit – I Can See You
Shantanu maintains the traditional art of storytelling through lyrical rhythms and melodies accompanied by minimal instrumentation. This song somehow feels like a conversation that a child/man is having with himself and witnessing the changes that are taking place within him. The child/man is in the process of becoming the individual he wants to become. He can see that process (“I can see you”) and is embracing upon that change.
Sulk Station – Pia
A woman in rural india has just become a widow and has realized that there is not much left in her life, given the stigma upon widows in her part of the world. Even though she was not close to her husband, she mourns and wails for him. She understands the battle that she will have to undergo as a widow in her new life is one that she is not prepared to fight.
Skyharbor – Celestial
Had to include an artist from the progressive genre and Skyharbor is definitely one to be reckoned with. I reminisce upon a battle from an Indian epic, with two Gods with supernatural powers preparing to face each other on the battlefield.
Sahil Vasudeva – In the Footsteps of the Veil
This piece attempts to convey the story of a woman who has lived her entire life under a veil – literally and metaphorically. She has been suppressed her entire life, first by her immediate family and later by her husband. She finally musters the courage to run away from her house, however, not without her husband noticing. The husband chases her through the alleys of her neighborhood following the sound of the ankle bells that he had locked to his wife’s feet. The woman eventually collapses, exhausted, outside a temple. Her husband catches her there. Her escape is futile.
Sahil Vasudeva is a composer based in New Delhi, who will be releasing his music under the stagename Middle C. He spends the rest of his time creating awkward situations at social gatherings. Feel free to write to me at [email protected].