Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Holding on to their Legacy (1974 AD)

(Src wavemag)

During the height of their success, 1974 AD generated interest similar to pop boy bands: screaming fans and requests to give up smoking (probably the Nepali equivalent of a homemade "Marry me" poster). But their popularity has lasted far longer than most boy bands, probably because of their versatility and an enthusiasm for an amalgam of sounds, rhythms and ideas that means that their sound stays fresh.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the band has once again reworked their classic formula of drawing on 70s rock influences, embellishing it with rhythms as far apart as folk Nepali to African beats in their latest album. Their eighth album, released four years after their last, Aath Athaara combines mellow acoustics with thumping bass: the signature 1974 AD style.

At least in terms of unparalleled eminence, 1974 AD is the musical equivalent of Rajesh Hamal. (Scr, wavemag) No concert is complete without their participation, no musical conversation complete without their mention. Although their band has endured in the music scene for almost two decades, their line-up has kept changing, and the band now consists of Adrian Pradhan, Manoj KC, Nirakar Yakthumba and Sanjay Shrestha.

The blending of new sounds and rhythms with old, however, persists. In the new album you will find tracks like "Satyabadi", which is in fact derived from a Sanskrit poem. Its loud presence will trump the tracks like "Bardaan" and "Aja Kaha", which are mellower and more acoustic in sound.

"The album will be the most technically advanced of all our albums," says Manoj KC, the band's guitarist, who also produced the latest creation. After so many years, the fans should expect no less. But don't fear. Their boy band-like charm has not disappeared. It will comfort their amorous fans to learn that their album is called Aath Athaara because Nirakar and Manoj were born on the eighth (aath), and Sanjay and Adrian on the 18th (athaara). Aww…

Monday, August 9, 2010

A sound of their own

AUG 09 - (Amy Sellmyer, src, ekantipur)
It’s hard to put a name on the sound of Hari Maharjan Project: it is at the same time rock, funk, gypsy jazz, classical Indian and folk with a sprinkling of influence from the Middle-East. And after a brief introduction to HRP’s three members, it’s easy to see where this musical diversity comes from.

Guitarist Hari Mahrajan has been a figure in Nepal’s music scene for years, playing with popular bands Nepathya and Karma. After exploring his interest in gypsy jazz with renowned artist in the form, Danial Givone, Maharjan has created his own hybrid between this genre’s style and that of his Nepali and Newari roots. Riju Tuladhar, a self-taught bassist and founding member of Nepali rock band Looza, also plays with fusion band Trikaal. Drummer Daniel Rasaily, the youngest of the trio, started performing in church at a young age and has since been expanding his percussion repertoire playing with Stroficus, Gravity, X-it and Christian band Salvation.

Though all three members have their roots in different genres, their experience and devotion to music have formed a perfect fusion in the two-year-old band. Combine their diverse backgrounds with features from Nawaraj Gurung drumming the tabala, Prabhu Raj Dhakal plucking the tanpura and Santosh Bhakta playing the ishraj and the result is the band’s refreshing debut album, Kalakarmi.

A quick scan through the nine tracks-all written by Maharjan except one Chinese folk tune-is full of surprises. Listening to Himakshi, you are at once transported to the sidewalks outside a Parisian café; change tracks to Raktika, both epic and soothing at the same time, and will find yourself charmed by the sounds of India’s classical instruments. The album’s nearly 12-minute title track gives each instrument free reign to explore its boundaries and each artist a chance to truly exhibit their art. On the funky Soul in You and harder-hitting Never Gonna Drink & Drive Again, the band is able to showcase their unique ability to blend Western rock with Eastern influences.

Though the album is a completely instrumental compilation, it doesn’t leave the listener wanting for lyrics. The melodies twined between Mahrajan’s strumming and Tuladhar’s plucking expresses as much as any lyric could. Overall, the album has a playful, experimental sound unique to other Nepali artists on the market.

Though the album smoothly blends together a wide range of genres and allows these devoted musicians full spread to explore their craft, the CD recording lacks the unmistakeable tone of Mahrajan’s guitar, the distinctive sound of Tuladhar’s bass and the energy of Raisally’s drums that you feel the instant you walk into one of their live gigs, truly the best place to experience the Hari Maharjan Project.

Their album, Kalakarmi, is available in the market and online.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Basan Back As a Band

Former vocalist of "The Shadows", came back with his own solo debut titled "Emerge" few years back. Now again he is back as a band with is self titled band and with their second album "Sunaudai Chhaun" which is production and marketing from Rebel Creation. Music video of "Ko Hun Ma" has been aired on various television channel. And the video has been directed by 11:30 Basan himself. (Src. Babal dot com)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maaf Gara (2010) - Axis (Yuva Records)

Maaf Gara (2010)
Yuva Records
Rating: 3/5

Six years ago with Black and White, Axix formed new ripples of soft rock in the Nepali music scene. Its copies sold like hotcakes; tolling to more than 30,000. While we hummed Timi Pheri Aauna and the radio waves endlessly played Adhuro Prem, Axix were on a hideout for Maaf Gara, their second album.

With a total of nine tracks, Maaf Gara has all of shades of rock. The title track Maaf Gara has a heavy instrumental start. With a gentle vocal intro, it leads to the high chorus. With heavier instrumentation added while the lead voice soars, the second track Eklo Jiwan has a deceptively soft beginning.The chorus is beautiful and the guitar solo complements it well. A touch of fuzz takes us away from the soft intro. You can hear Sandeep's incredible vocal range in this track. With a touch of western influence, the third track Muskaan speeds up with an accumulation of heavy music that is hypnotically repetitive. Euta Maya, the next track has vocals with a melody line reminiscent of the song Honey, which looms melancholy. The music is influenced by 80's heavy metal.

Through all the heavy instrumentation, the vocal in the Mayako Artha comes out high and clear. As the song progresses, it segues into rap which gives it a different zing, as compared to the rest. The intro music in next song Timro Yaad goes back to Axis's familiar raucous style. Hida Hida is probably the highlight of the album. Superbly mixed, with great multiple choruses the song has a brilliant lead intro and it's comparatively lighter than the rest.

The second last track Muskaan 2 sways from the rebel-rousing mood of the rest of the album into a gentle, soft romantic track. The accent is on the voice and the words. The final track Hey Aama is a foot tapping farewell song to the album with some great guitar riffs. DS (Src: Wavemag)


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rage Hybrid

(Src, wavemag)

For anyone who follows Katmandu's metal gigs, Rage Hybrid needs no introduction. Maybe it is because of the choice of songs they choose to cover onstage or just the raw energy they bring forward, they have the crowd head banging to their music almost every single time. With a vibe of Slipknot and a metalcore twist to their music, these young lads are an unlikely outcome of the old neighbourhood of Joche.

Rage Hybrid performed for the first time in November 2009 at a congratulatory gig for E.Quals on them being qualified for the GBOB. For a cover band which played cover songs at concert, Rage Hybrid has come a long way. In less than eight months since their debut performance the band has two original songs ready with the third in the making. My Broken Tendency, one of their original songs, depicts the true image of the form of music the band plays.

Releasing an album is not in the list of priorities for the band. Going so-called mainstream is what they feel is against the ethics of an underground band. They plan to continue doing what they do best, performing onstage and remaining faithful to their fans. Each members share their own unique thought on how things should be in the music scene. Gaurav thinks the sound engineers are just too amateur to handle metal and never get it right, while Ranjit thinks new artists are not respected at all and never get paid. Sujan on the other hand feels a need for yet another platform where artist are promoted properly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

For the love of music

“Anyone who has the money and the contacts are making music these days, which is not right.”

by PRAVAT J GURUNG (wavemag)

If one were to closely scrutinise the path to success, passion would always take precedence. It drives a person to set out on a journey which is difficult and at times unheard of, often taking matters into their own hands. And this month, we feature two fine young lads who are all set to bounce and pounce into the Nepali music industry.

Though he's new, Himalaya Rai has the passion and Rinchen Palzar aka Rajib, lead guitarist of Abhaya and the Steam Injuns, is right behind him teaching him the tricks of the trade. Together, they create a record company and a wholesome package ready to give out their best.

"I was just 17 when I realised that music is what I wanted to do and I'm happy now" says Himalaya, "I am very much thankful to Rajib dai and Abhaya di for taking me under their wings and making me realise that it was something that I could do." Himalaya met Rajib when he was in college while Rajib was here in Kathmandu holidaying from Darjeeling. "He used to bunk college and come to my place to talk about music. I was amazed by his sense of music," says Rajib. A big fan of Abhaya, the conversations were then taken outside the four walls and onto the streets as Himalaya acted as a guide to Rajib around the streets of Kathmandu. "I didn't know much of this place," remembers Rajib.

Rajib always knew music is what he wanted to do and when Abhaya offered him a place in her band, he was more than happy to join. It's been 7 years since he's been playing music and by the looks of it, he doesn't have any plans of retiring any time soon. Besides playing for the band, he also composes music. Himalaya, on the other hand, is a shy 21-year-old but his enthusiasm for music helped him reach where he is now. "My dad understood my love and passion for music and he is the one who encouraged me to start a music label," says Himalaya.

Their similar interests and personalities resulted in the establishment of 360 Degrees Records. "We started the company to promote artists who have the talent. Himalaya wanted to open a recording studio at first but then he changed his plans and we opened 360 Degrees Records," reveals Rajib.

The company of late has produced Nayan, the latest album of Abhaya and the Steam Injuns. "Anyone who has the money and the contacts are making music these days, which is not right," say the duo with a hint of annoyance. But we can't deny it either. A quick flip of the channels on TV attests it, making us question if singers, producers and not to forget the listeners are tone deaf. Hence, 360 Degrees Records aims to promote the fact that music is a gift that only few are blessed with.

Though just on the initial stage of their musical journey, the path has been good for both of them. They plan to produce and promote quality music. But they feel their journey wouldn't have been as smooth without the help of Biplob, Abhaya, Kai, Manohar, Anup Prakash, their band members of the Steam Injuns and all those who've supported them over the years. Tune in to quality music, musicians and artists from 360 Degrees Records soon. For more information, log on to


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rite of Spring Nepali style

KATHMANDU, March 1(Republica)
How many times in life do you get to see a jazz player sit cross-legged, like a yogi, and match the tunes of a sitar with his saxophone?

The matching was almost perfect and the overcrowded venue at Rashtriya Nachghar at Jamal did not feel the need to note the difference. It was Friday evening at Sukarma´s annual solo concert this year, featuring Mariano from the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory (KJC).

"I´ve done this a few times," a bespectacled Mariano grinned as his eyes moved to and fro in amusement. "Actually, very few times!" Then he looked at his shoes sheepishly, looked up and smiled before a bunch of admirers encircled him again.

Mariano was joined by Jan on piano in classic folk tunes at Sukarma’s annual gala affair. This time, the band performed nine fresh compositions they had prepared specially for this spring concert. The show christened "Ritu Shrawan" was light and soothing to match the mood of spring.

The trio of Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi, Shyam Chitrakar and Pramod Upadhyaya mesmerizing the crowd again is hardly any news anymore, especially with Shyam playing murchunga, a Nepali instrument akin to the Jewish harp. Rounds of applause swept the hall. Hari Maharjan, formerly of Nepathya fame, was on guitar and Umesh Pandit, his flute a few inches longer than his hand, put in a stupendous performance.

Shekhar Kharel, the event manager, said in his welcome speech that the concert was for "free people of free countries" as music cannot be confined by geography. He forgot to add a tiny detail that pulled many to the concert – the program was free of cost.

"We´re doing this because there is an immediate need to bring classical music to the attention of as many as possible," said Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi, the sitar maestro of the band. "Not many people still want to spend money to come and listen to classical."

Photo: Bijay Rai

Sharing his experience during a recent four-month European tour, Regmi added, "Since we´re sandwiched between India and China, people think Nepali music is a hybrid of the two." According to him, many people in other parts of the world mistake Indian music for music from India. "Indian music applies to all genres of music found between the Indian Ocean and the Himalayas," the doctorate in the history of Nepali music said.

Sukarma is often accused of distorting classical music. But Regmi says in defense that classical music is not necessarily what we´ve been playing for centuries. Dhrubesh, son of renowned sitar virtuoso Krishna C Regmi, added, "Like everything else classical music evolves too."

Sukarma is a folk and classical instrumental trio formed in 1997. Within a decade, the group has established itself as a major presence and represented Nepali music in many country including the USA, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Austria and Germany, to name a few.