Tag Archives: Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury

Calcutta String Festival 2014 at ICCR, Kolkata

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Debarati Sanyal

Debarati is a freelance photographer based in Bangalore and for the past one year has been actively documenting the music scene. When not shooting gigs, she can be found in front of a computer working on graphics and writing. Or maybe you can find her at one of the watering holes chugging beer!


Blah Blah Blah by Cactus


Cactus has been the forerunner of the Bengali rock scene since the early 90s. Unlike many other such Bengali bands that have come and gone during this period, Cactus is one of the few bands which has firmly stood the test of time. Blah Blah Blah is their fourth studio album, after the release of Tucho in 2008.

Blah BlahBlah is more of an experimental album for Cactus, they have deviated a little from their usual classic rock genre and gone into Alternative/Modern Rock and this album contains new renditions of three of their older songs. The album opens with the title track ‘Blah Blah Blah’ which talks about how politicians build up hopes with their nonsensical jabber and bring them crashing down to the ground later on. This track has a very bass-filled verse and some broken nu-metal riffs. Also, guitarist Ritaprabha Ratul Ray has put in some beautiful work with delays on this track and a screechy Tom Morello-ish like solo. The outro of this number also has a very Rage Against The Machine vibe to it. Next up is ‘Boro Deri’ which starts with an eerie ambience and a heavy bobby bass from Sandip Roy, and Ratul too puts in some beautiful chords and little fleeting solos here and there making this one of the eased out songs of the album.

‘Dulchhe’ has a very groovy and powerful chorus that really moves you. The bass line during the last verse is amazing coupled with a beautiful old-school rock kind of guitar solo and a very crazy techno-ish end thus making this track one of those where the band takes the listener on a ride over Crazy Mountain.

The track ‘Status Update’ ironically has nothing to do with any social network; rather it addresses the fact that Bengalis are generally very fond of procrastination. This track incorporates some nice tricks using the phase shift on the guitars.

The first of the three re-works on the album is the song ‘Mon’ which originally featured on their 2002 album Nil Nirjone. The song is a tad disappointing since the original was a very soothing song where the theme of the lyrics clicked perfectly with the music. This newer version on the other hand does not quite fit the theme and also has some sour interludes. Listeners who have appreciated the original version may not quite enjoy this newer rendition. The next track is a rework of ‘Nil Nirjone’. The intro riff once again has a slight RATM vibe to it. The bouncy bass lines, along with some groovy drumming from Sibaji Baji Paul, enhances the mood and takes this version to another level entirely. Ratul also unveils some clever and intricate tricks here and there making this one of my favourite songs from the album.

‘Noah’ is the last of the reprise tracks in this album and is actually better than the original. The simple but elegant acoustic riff fits so perfectly into the mood that you just cannot resist singing along. And the drums come in magnificently with such preciseness giving the track a whole new definition. Also, the outro totally reminds me of Pink Floyd and their dramatic endings. The next composition ‘Shohoj’ starts off with a funky groove. Some nice Ray Manzarek styled riffs along with up-tempo guitar riffs gives this track a very alternative character.

All in all, this entire album is a breath of fresh air for Cactus fans. With Zorran Mendonsa on the production duties the bass was more prominent on the album and it felt really nice. Pus the guitars were intricately placed and lots of different influences were noticed here and there. It was very nice to see Cactus evolving with their sound and finding a new definition for it all.

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Joy Chakraborty

Debdutto 'Joy' Chakraborty is the skinniest music fanatic, plays some guitar, jumps around trees, and likes to stay in the shadows. He is also studying B.Tech as a side project.


Souvenirs and Memories by Kendraka


Kendraka is an Indo-Jazz-fusion band based in Kolkata, a fascinating group of musicians who seamlessly blend and fuse vibrant aspects of Indian classical music with the absorbent niches of traditional jazz fusion. ‘Kendraka’ is also a Sanskrit word for ‘Nucleus’. While the band has undergone a few changes in lineup since its inception in 2008, it primarily serves as the launch pad for the creative energies of bassist and founder, Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury.

Souvenirs and Memories is a double-CD release covering their first two albums Tathastu and The Candy Album.

Tathastu (2010)

Tathastu, released in 2010, is their debut album which comprises material drawing inspiration from hard bop to fusion jazz à la Weather Report.

Nuclear’ kicks proceedings off in a fashion that would soon be identified with the Kendraka sound – winding riffs, patterns and abstract soundscapes -volatile yet succinct amidst chaos, with drummer Jivraj Satya Singh’s big-band-ish drum interludes stemming from influences from the likes of Max Roach and Gene Krupa.

19 wishes’ is a Vijay Iyer type slow burning ballad, with intricate tabla over fluid guitar work. ‘Pluto‘ is a spacey jam in 7/8 time, also the longest song on the album. ‘Jack in the Box’ and ‘First Take’ are run away jams, continuing the theme of overall confusion based much in the line of ‘Nucleus’.

Winter Drizzle’ and ‘Transition in Monsoon’ cover two seasons welcome by most Indians with textures varying from breezy idioms to razor sharp guitar work. ‘Waiting For the Sunshine’ finishes the album much like an unmatched parenthesis, leaving loads of much tension to be resolved in the future albums.

While Tathastu might easily be passed off as the smoothest musical representation of curvilinear geometry or quantum mechanics, fans of jazz-fusion in the style of Mahavishnu Orchestra and the like will certainly dig the record, it remains to be seen if the mainstream Indian rock fan base has an ear for this consummate potpourri of eclectic musical experiments.  

Candy Album (2012)

While their debut album Tathastu (2010) was complex jazz fusion with confusion being the theme, Candy Album is quite the opposite – accessible, bourgeois, devoid of frippery and minimal on technical acrobatics whilst throwing a fresh perspective in colors onto the staid canvasses of Indian Fusion.

The album opens with ‘Khaniker Dekha’ which opens with a short bass alap on the beauteous Bilahari raaga, and culminates into a slow rhythmic jam with neat interplay of Bumpy’s raga bass lines with Bodhisattwa Ghosh’s jazz guitar comping. The guitar solo though short is all jazz and may alienate non-jazz listeners first time. Soumyajyoti Ghosh’s flute solo is haunting, while the Mridangam adds depth to the overall texture.

Thirteenth Hour‘ is my pick of the album. A rhythmically tight piece with an addictive mellow riff in the moonlit Kaapi raaga harmonized on the bass, guitar and flute, embedded with Bodhi’s sparkling guitar tone, grows on you on repetitive listens.

The aptly named ‘27 Steps to Chaos’ is the darkest track on the album. There’s liberal confusion of calm amidst the rhythmic chaos with contrasting serene flute interludes, fractured guitars and rap references of Tolkien(gosh, everyone uses Tolkien a lot) and Hindu Mythology (or maybe Amish Tripathi?)

‘The Jive’ is a free floating, latter day Mahavishnu Orchestra-type jam piece with a rhythmically complex yet lucid main hook. Just the one wacky squealy solo from Bodhi and the band returns to the twisty main theme before heading into the final track ‘Ode to the Wishful Passage’. ‘Ode…’ has a deep, melancholy theme of the final passage of the human soul(as laid out on the album cover). Bumpy’s bass playing is highly evocative and introspective, paints a picture of a man in agony silhouetted on the banks of the Benares.

Travelling quite deep emotionally than the tiny informative quips on the liner notes, Candy… culminates into a sedate, self-inquisitive journey. Kendraka’s cohesiveness is a notable mention, mostly an approach wherein the bass leads and guitar comps in the background.

Kendraka’s double-CD album is a good place to start to understand what’s brimming up in the Indian Jazz-fusion scene. Souvenirs… is an absorbing multi-listen with melodic and harmonic depth, setting up an interesting future for Kendraka and their growing fan base, with a direction more towards Carnatic rock in true terms of the word.

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Purushotham Kaushik

Purushotham Kaushik is a freakish-blues guy with a Carnatic frame of mind and surreal poetic sensibilities.