Tag Archives: Jason Zac Band

The Absence of Laughter by Jason Zac Band


From the first dramatic sequence through the highs and lows of the journey that is The Absence of Laughter, Jason Zac Band constructs a self-contained world that is both beautiful and dark. Eclectic, powerhouse talent is harnessed in this stunning expression of a myriad of feelings. The band has progressive chops to keep casual and music-literate listeners hooked. The lyrical content is elevated by the choir, and the instrumentation is brilliant. The transitions in moods and feelings are mediated by thoughtful orchestration. Fearlessly written and masterfully mixed, JZB’s album requires that you take the time and listen.

“The best thing about it? Faith finds a new beginning.”

– Redemption, on The Absence of Laughter by Jason Zac Band

The first step in the musical journey of this album is a synthesis of many beautiful and haunting variations. The quickened pace in ‘Don’t Turn Away’ drives the song. The breakdown on this track is terrific, with the heavy strings and swing feel keeping you locked in and nodding. And just when you get comfortable, the fast-paced rhythm takes over, returning you back to the baseline. ‘Redemption’ takes the same feel and somehow softens it, allowing you to reflect on the stunning mix of this track. The vocals and harmonies redeem the dark mood from the first two tracks, and leaves you wondering where will this go?

‘Jellyfish’ at first strikes you as the middle-of-album ballad, but in what is becoming true JZB spirit, the middle of the track snaps into a hook that I could have sworn I was ready for. The way the soundscape expands while still being vocal-centered is sheer brilliance. The sawtooth lead synth solo leading into the harmonized bass-vocal section is held together superbly with the drums. One thing to keep in mind is how intricately different musical flavours have been woven together into stunning tracks. There is no wasting time trying to get the listener’s attention. Anything that is not prominent in the mix exists to provide the exact tone and feel that the band wants to you experience. This has been so meticulously executed that it may slip under the radar of the casual listener. Which, you should not be.

‘The Dark Spiral of Time’ is a return to the main path of this musical journey. The laughter and upswing feel is gone, but every time one feels overwhelmed by what is a heavy and sombre mood, JZB shifts the tone and feel just slightly, lending you the hope of a return to normalcy. ‘Wayfarer’s Dream’ has a lilting theme to it and is a spotlight on the band’s progressive capabilities. The same ideas are fleshed out extensively in the title track ‘The Absence of Laughter’, a fantastic showcase of the orchestration on this album – both with instruments and voices.

The journey takes a turn with ‘Parindey’ and the next track, ‘We Keep Marching On’. It is the catharsis you’ve been waiting for, and once again, when you feel you are at the top of the mountain, JZB’s higher purpose with this album throws you down into the depths with an anchor of ambient soundscapes, minor chords, motifs and lyrics to keep you rooted to the spot, courtesy ‘Death and the Moonlight’, perhaps the most dramatic track on the album. Bass and drums dominate ‘Like A Woman Scorned’, with a welcoming switch in feel and mood. The last track, a piano reprise, is like Jason’s last stand in the battle. Whimsical, deep, troubling – this track is a musical composition that oozes excellence.

JZB take the time to unfold and construct sequences with multiple layers that are so, so appealing – from crescendos to instrumental and vocal solos that are backed exquisitely by one another. Every track is like a fishing line with a tackle that floats on the water – you can stay on the surface, but you are free to sink in to explore and unravel the depths and intricacies. Start at the beginning and immerse yourself in this album. Don’t shuffle The Absence of Laughter on a playlist. Oh, and if you were wondering if one person could play twelve musical instruments, the answer is Jason Zachariah.

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Sidharth Mohan

Sidharth Mohan is the founder of ‘What’s The Scene’ and a biophysicist. A musician in his own right, he started WTS while still a part of a local band in Bangalore. When not working with gloves and a lab coat, he spends his time travelling, swimming and jamming.


JD Rock Awards 2014 at Mehboob Studios, Mumbai


The Jack Daniels Rock Awards 2013





The eighth edition of the annual Jack Daniels Rock awards was held on the 22nd of February at Mehboob Studio amidst little hype and no fanfare. The invite-only event hosted by Sameer Malhotra and The P-Man (Rohit Pereira) saw successful rock bands from the scene, across genres, being feted for their musical efforts over the past one year, by people who had little or nothing to do with the scene.

Bombay punk rockers, Blek kick-started the evening performing songs from their debut album, Hexes + Drama & Other Reasons for Evacuation to an audience of around 100 people. Their half hour long set included some of their popular songs like ‘Minus the Makeup’ and ‘Fog + Strobe’ which was also nominated in the best song category. Blek’s set was followed by the first set of awards which saw Shantanu Hudalikar win the best producer award. Advaita’s The Silent Sea and Swarathma’s Topiwalleh shared honours for the best album art while The Blue Frog, Mumbai was adjudged the best live music venue.  The emcee then made Michele Obama’s virtual presence at the Oscars seem less random by calling upon a Bollywood designer along with an eye-candy model to give away the next set of awards – Blek were back on stage to collect their award, after being declared the best emerging band of 2012. The next award handed out was for the best keyboardist which was shared by Jason Zachariah (Jason Zac Band) and Zubin Balaporia (Indus Creed). The designer-model duo then gave a priceless tip of advice in fashion to the musicians gathered (who, judging by the vibes, couldn’t care less), before handing over the best drummer award to Jai Row Kavi (Indus Creed). Bombay Jam band Something Relevant was up next on stage, playing a half hour long medley of songs from their second album, We Could Be Dreaming which was released last year.

Actor Suchitra Pillai was then accompanied on stage by Ken Ghosh (Bollywood director) to give away the next set of awards – Tony Guinard of the Ska Vengers tipped my personal favourite Roop Thomas of Blakc to win the best bassist award. Thermal and a Quarter frontman Bruce Lee Mani deservingly bagged the coveted best guitarist award, having being nominated alongside other stalwarts like Keshav Dhar, Baiju Dharmarajan and Mahesh Tinaikar. A clueless Mandira Bedi then walked onto stage to hand over the awards for best male and female vocalists – Vivienne Pocha won the award for the best female vocalist scoring over equally good singers Samara C (Ska Vengers) and Suman Sridhar (Sridhar/Thayil), while Angaraag “Papon” Mahanta overpowered the likes of Uday Benegal, Rabbi Shergill, Bruce Lee Mani, Gareth D’mello and Vasu Dixit in a star studded list of nominations for the best male vocalist.

The Rolling Stone all-star jam that followed, showcased artists from bands like Something Relevant, Split, Goddess Gagged and Colour Compound, recreate the magic of some of India’s most popular rock songs  – from Siddharth Basrur and Gareth D’mello’s duet take on Them Clones’s ‘Zephyretta’  to Rachel Varghese’s cover of Junkyard Groove’s ‘Imagine’, Saba Azad’s cover of  Orange Street’s ‘Candywalk’ to  Gareth’s beautiful delivery of ‘Lucy’ by Zero, Suman Sridhar’s horror screams and deafening screeches on Workshop’s ‘Pudhe Sarka’ to Rachel Varghese’s rendering of ‘Trapped’ by Indus Creed,  the wonderfully selected set list for the jam had something for everyone’s taste and gave the attendees a lot to cheer about.

The Rolling Stone jam session was ensued by the last set of awards that saw Keshav Dhar’s Skyharbor bag the recently introduced – best metal band award before Papon made it two for the night after ‘Boitha Maro Re’ was adjudicated the best song, overshadowing some splendid tracks like ‘Maeva’ (Skyharbor), ‘Fog + Strobe’ (Blek), ‘Dissolve’ (Indus Creed) and ‘For the Cat’ (TAAQ). Former Miss India, Yukta Mookhey was then called out of oblivion to hand over the last couple of awards – Advaita’s ‘The Silent Sea’ won the top honours bagging the best album award, however it was Indus Creed who won the bragging rights and took home the 5 lakh rupees prize money after being adjudged the best Indian band for the year 2012.

Despite oddities of the award presenters, a no-show by most winners and a kitty cat on the loose, the award show at large went off smoothly, thanks (largely) to the free flowing Jack at the event.