Friday, 29 June 2012

Swarathma - Topiwalleh

Bands promoting their albums via facebook is old hat. The Bangalore based folk rock band Swarathma decided to take a novel approach and asked their followers to don a colourful topi on their profile picture to support the release of Topiwalleh. The resulting gallery of mad hatters would have made a great promotional poster.

Swarathma have a way with rhythm and folk influenced percussion. Throughout the album the syncopated beats the band use are infectious. The use of traditional instruments and how Swarathma blend them with more modern musical instruments techniques is innovative. I particularly liked how the violin was given a starring role in many of the tracks. Sanjeev Nayak is the rabbit that Swarathma pull out of their hat each time they want to give a song a special finish.

There is a message in the music that Swarathma make. Ghum is a dark and sinister track about child abuse. It’s atmospheric and the contrasts in the song are excellent. The lyrics of Topiwalleh take a dig at Indian politicians while beachy summer vibes play underneath. There is a great laid back reggae groove to the title track of the album which makes a great opener.

The album is full of original ideas and imaginative production. Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar is a full on rock anthem, but the middle section is filed with samples from television shows. It sounds odd, but this somehow works wonderfully.

Along with the heavier rock songs, there are tracks which have a simpler, slower feel to them. Khul Ja Re has a great opening and there are some nice vocal harmonies going on. Rishton Ki Raasta takes a look at relationships and their complications. It has a reflective mood and speeds up at the end.

Most of the songs on the album are in Hindi. However Naane Daan is in Kannada. Translated as “I am on my way” it’s an anthem for the youth of today. It’s peppy and energetic with a modern edge to it. The violin solo in the middle contrasted brilliantly with the guitar underneath.

Duur Kinara is a track that was made when Swarathma appeared on the Deewarists. It’s rousing with some gorgeous rustic vocals from Shubha Mudgal. Yeshu Allah aur Krishna is another rousing track with a reggae feel that has added religious fervour.

Verdict: This album is full of tune and and infectious rhythm. The songs are as varied and as colourful as the band itself. Hats off to Swarathma for Topiwalleh!

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