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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