Thursday, July 25, 2013

That 70s Post

It is almost surprising to note that, looking back from today, the 70s were not thirty years ago, but forty. An era that saw the world turn around on so many fronts, the decade has formed a firm base to the society, economy, political scenario and the pop-culture of day and age.

A quick look at Wikipedia will tell you that the 70s has mostly been a prosperous time with booming economy(which suffered during the Oil Crisis, but recuperated soon after,) the various forms of liberalism, atomic energy, feminism, increasing political awareness and environmental consciousness. The seventies also saw the fall of the hippie subculture that had begun years ago. But their ways, and their philosophy were here to stay.

As a person who was born twenty years later, most of what I have learnt about that time is from whatever remains: the pop culture, or to be more precise – the music from the 70s.

Post the shift from technical and intellectual serial music, a plethora of genres emerged during those years. There was rise in minimalism and the incorporation of modern electronic equipment (which were previously used only in war.) At the same time, the gleeful, attractive and entertaining pop-music of the 60s was losing its shine. Instead, a whole new revolution occurred, bringing forth a more expressive form of music: Rock and Roll.

Of course, the 60s had its own set of insightful and outstanding musicians creating, in the midst of Soul, Country/Folk and Jazz, a rise in Blues music from Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. No arguments about that. Still, the real growth spurt of the genre, or what we could call a ‘boom’ happened in the decade that followed it.

Rock and Roll did not emerge by itself, but as a bunch of other genres which happened to have the same line up and instrumentation. The most prominent of these genres include Punk, Heavy Metal and Psychedelic Rock and Jazz-Rock. Still, upon closer inspection on the content from each of these genres, all of them propagated a sense of melancholy that’s way more discernible than in the decade before.

For years, I looked for a reason that explained such melancholy(and often rage) in the forms of expression that arose from an age that seemed to be pretty prosperous: The Great Wars were over. The Civil Rights Movement in America had gained substantial momentum and the society had benefited from it. Women’s Liberation closely followed and was equally insightful. The moon wasn’t a distant dream anymore. Around the world, there was an increase in Industrial Productivity. At the same time, Food Security issues were on a decline with the all new Green Revolution making strides. It was all good.

Or was it?


Although the seventies look beautiful in grainy films with badass jackets and shades, in America, the decade was a time of high government mistrust.

In 1974, for the first time in history, a president resigned. This was preceded by a series of clandestine activities by the US Government that, unfortunately (to the government) came to light, an incident referred to as the Watergate. This included bugging of offices of his Political opponents or just about anyone who was considered suspicious.

Another popular issue from that time is Project MKUltra. Project MKUltra is the codename of one of those covert operations undertaken by the US Government that didn’t make it to light in association with President Nixon. However, MKUltra involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate people's mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs such as LSD, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse among various forms of torture. This research was being undertaken in over 80 institutions that included schools, colleges, prisons and hospitals. This was brought to light by the Church Committee in 1975.

The following year, Saigon was captured by South Vietnam. While the Vietnam War is a great source of discussion and debate and largely depends on the point of view, it was bad news for an American citizen. The general anti-government feeling was heightened by the fact that while the government was capable of nefarious activities such as the ones I’ve mentioned, it was unable to win the war in Vietnam; 58,193 Americans died trying.

Needless to say, the decade had plunged people into a sense of fear and insecurity, despite look at claims that said they were living in the ‘greatest Nation.’ That gave rise to a rebellion against authority. Not through violence or representation, but through music.

The United Kingdom had its own share of political scandals, most of which dabbled on sexuality, prostitution among others.


In its true sense, the word ‘Satan’ simply translates to mean ‘the opposer’ in Hebrew. In the New Testament, Satan is a name that refers to a decidedly malevolent entity which possesses demonic god-like qualities. For most Christians, he is believed to be an angel who rebelled against God.

In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a positive force and deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is regarded as holding virtuous characteristics.

But that doesn’t come as a surprise as the duality in Good and Evil also existed on either sides of the Arabian Sea, with Devas(or Daivas) symbols Good in Hinduism, but Evil in Zoroastrianism, and Asuras/Ahuras being Evil in Hinduism but the Gods of Zoroastrianism. Upon closer look, Devas and Asuras were just theistic and symbolic representations of Order and Chaos. They were meant to oppose each other in order to ensure harmony.

However, that was not the case with Satan. While Satanism developed by itself as a new form of belief, it still stood to what it meant: The Opposer.

The perceived equivalent in Islam, Shaitan translates to mean ‘astray’ or ‘distant’. Still, the Islam version is pretty consistent with the Christian version: All he did was to disobey the God’s command, and he could do so because he had free will.

Free will, yes. As in a democratic nation.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

“They’d say, ‘If you play the record backwards, you can hear evil things like 'grrrr!'’ and I would think, ‘Geez, I didn’t know the devil sounded like that. I thought he was coherent like the rest of us.’”
- Brian Johnson, AC/DC

The rock music from the 70s is a big and accurate reflection of the troubles in its age. From the beginning of its time, the genres and its musicians have touched upon a variety of methods and used a number of symbols to substantiate their opinions against authority such as Satan.

What did they refer to, while talking about Satan? It was about standing up to a Government that did not speak for the people; almost all the time.

At the same time, Punk musicians expressed their issues with rules, hypocrisy and double standards of their leaders. Trend-setting songs such as The Clash's "Career Opportunities" and Chelsea's "Right to Work" deal with unemployment and the grim realities of urban life. In early British punk, a central goal was to outrage and shock the mainstream (something that electronica artists do today) which is prominent in The Sex Pistols classics "Anarchy in the U.K." and "God Save the Queen" that openly disparage the British political system and social mores.

Punk music wavered around and eventually disintegrated into a number of other genres. Almost all the rage in its music was converted into melancholic art-forms in most genres that followed it, including the no-wave American Punk and 80s Post Punk.

Still, a number of musicians kept up with the tradition of showing aggression through music. This practice was more prominent than anything else in the emergence of Metal Music. Although the most memorable bands that played Metal at that time were from outside America, the reason it spread like wild-fire in the west was simply because of the rage and mistrust against authority among people.

And given that it came up at a time when scandals and, by extension, conspiracy theories were floating around like smell of hot-dog on a city street, it was refreshing for an average music aficionado, or just about anyone to pick up music that advocated their fears and dissatisfaction.

That said this theory has a number of exceptions. These include the likes of Led Zeppelin, who started off with rock’n’roll music but eventually moved on to a more personal sounding country/folk frame work, hence not participating in any of the movements occurring in that era. Still, they went on to become one of the greatest bands in history with a number of subsequent bands across so many genres incorporating their musical elements and style. The same goes in case of Pink Floyd. While the band tried making larger-than-life statements and made references to a number of political phenomena through their works, it was the music that happened to be their primary form of expression.


Jazz music saw a turnaround in the 70s with people from Miles Davis’ troupe moving on with their careers forming bands that blurred genres. That was the decade when Jazz Music, predominantly a genre that contained black people associated with it, developed a fan base among the whites as well as inspire them. This was perhaps, an effect of the Civil Rights Movements that eventually resulted in greater interaction between black and white people in America, causing greater exchange of art and other forms of expression.

Today, Psychedelic Rock, Electronica, Traditional Rock’n’Roll and Jazz form an indispensable basis for any band. And though the 70s were an age with such distortions in the mind-set of people as opposed to the giant step in development it witnessed, it has given us, more than any other decade in history, the fundamentals for most modern music forms.

I do realize that I have not spoken much, or at all, about the electronic music that very much developed around the same time. What happened then? Was it too, inspired by the raging political issues of its time? And where did it start?

I shall write about it someday.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Out of the Blue, and into the Black.

Pretending that the mobile phone in my pocket is a bass guitar pickup.

Starring at wet white stripes on the road at a crossing as they get distorted in the rain.

Getting used to air-conditioning. 

Getting used to constant brightness. 

Struggling with vocal melodies trapped in my head. 

Wet shoes. Wet socks. 

Neon sign flickering across the street at midnight. 

Truck horns singing hit songs of a bygone era. 

A black era. 

The urge to break mirrors in an elevator. 

Only replying to questions. 

No more anxiety. No more cognizance

No more dogs in the street. No more dust in the air. 

Fake and artificial.

Fear of being a mortal. 

Fear upon coming across success stories. 

Fear upon coming across disasters. 

Imagining articles of self on Wikipedia. 

But only about good things. 

Blurring lines between modesty and masochism. 



Tuesday, May 21, 2013


They get away, unseen. Unheard. Unnoticed.

Well, not really. They are pretty much visible, audible and whatnot. People do often take heed, but fail to remember. You and me; people. Busy with things that we don't want to do so we can get what some distant nameless, faceless, and perhaps a limbless man deems necessary.

But then, they're watching you. They make note of every little habit that you're trying to hide from the people around you. Remember every little confession that you make. They have figured a pattern in your behaviour, and they're bloody judgmental about it.

They know enough about anybody - your favourite movie, what you wish to achieve in life, how much sugar would you like in your coffee, the time at which your phone gets busy, the kind of people you talk to, what other people call you, subtle expressions that were supposed to inform something to somebody, your polar shifts in demeanor when talking from person to person - enough about you to have a proper conversation. But then again, they are still quite terrible at making contact with people.

They watch the world around them, as it breaks down into nothingness every evening and try to change it, but only end up inducing fear and apprehension in people's minds. They go out of the way trying to fix things well beyond their control, or as people like to call it, they haunt. They are very much concerned about the way you and I live. Concerned, but powerless.

If they wanted to, they could commit crimes, given the extent of knowledge and freedom that they possess. It's almost tempting. But they're still good people, who believe in letting you live the way you want to and wait patiently until you join them.

They're human beings, too. Very much alive, and probably standing behind you.

- Sumanth

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Looking back, and then Forward

Being my first post this year, one would expect me to have a lot of things to talk about. I'm not exactly sure how much I have in mind. It's been a long time since I have spoken my mind on the internet in such elaborate manner. It's probably going to take a while for me to warm up.

A good place to start it off with, would be:

Life in 2012

Obviously, we didn't all die. Of course, many did. Some of them as good as Gods in what they did, and some as evil as the devil himself, sometimes both. The lines blur when it comes to defining a person by their deeds.

2012 had been a particularly eventful year for me. To start with, playing a part in the organizing of the tech fest of my college, which was among the first things to happen that year, has given me some of the most valuable of life lessons. It's been the first time I have been a part of a formal team that doesn't completely consist of friends. The first time I've worked under a leader, and the first time I faced actual challenges on a more professional front. My contributions mostly consisted of content writing and editing. I've had that love for writing ever since I opened up to it, which was sometime in eighth grade, around when I started this blog. But working here meant a completely different use of what I was good at. I'm rather proud to admit that my love and skill at this helped me acquire a reputation for the job. Which is when I began to get wary of the whole idea. Approaching an activity that I enjoyed, from a more professional and yielding perspective than from the usual emotional landscape was something that I was totally unprepared for, and I slowly began disliking what I was doing.

Needless to say, that's why I hardly blogged all year.

The striking realization of how the act of systematizing and clipping of my passions actually generated hatred brought a strange sense of insecurity. I'm sure we were all encouraged to pursue what we are passionate about. Also, ever since childhood, a job always had a negative ring to it, as it was considered nothing more than a way to make ends meet. A means to make money. More of an act of tolerance and perseverance that paid off on a material front and nothing else. We've all always dreamed of landing a job that would let us do what we liked and earn some dough at the same time. I began to fear that such a thing did not exist. From a point of view where I felt that working on what I liked would make work easier, I slowly began to believe that working on what I liked would somewhat reduce my enthusiasm altogether.

I spent a large part of the summer wondering what I really wanted to do with my life. Visiting new places, watching new people was indeed insightful, but it only provided more ways to look at things from. And that didn't really help. Third year at college began full of rush about deciding one's career, at least in an abstract sense. It was time to start prioritizing. at this point, I'm still not sure what I want to go ahead with. I saw this coming about a year ago, but nothing over all this while, I've only liked each face of myself more that it's been just as hard, if not harder, to choose.

Songwriting was something new I picked up in 2012. Music has always been close to me, and years of listening to new music and attempts at writing tunes and collages on my guitar led me to try out songwriting. Of course, my earliest trials were nothing more than blatant rephrases of my favourite songs. But that gave me my own way of writing. All I had to do was stick on to the rhythm of a song that inspired me at that moment, and write my own stuff to it. Most of them have that abstract minimalist sense to it, which has more to do with me not being a very good singer yet. I strive to be one someday, but let's see about that!

Getting myself an electric guitar propelled me forwards in that direction at exhilarating speeds. Within months, I saw myself becoming better in places I wanted to be. My first cohesive track was 'CCTV' which started off with me trying to write a poetic rant on some people I loathed at college, but I eventually ended up with protests against a seemingly Orwellian world with references to the New World Order theory. 'CCTV' refers to the British graffitti-art 'One Nation under CCTV' by unnamed artist Bansky. Hope I record that one someday.
I also wrote another instrumental called Paperclip, referring to post-WWII German scientists working in the US: Check that here.

Music in 2012

As I've always said, this place would mostly contain the best albums that I discovered in 2012. Not necessarily ones that released then. The year had been quite a journey through genres ranging from glitch to trance to metal. I've quite understood what kind of music I'm prone to like. Jazz is still an enigma, though. So many complexities hidden within, yet presenting a very sit-back, juvenile look. I've also taken to liking a lot of experimental music primarily depending on electronica. That said, being a guitarist, I still look for music that has sufficient amount of human touch in it to make me feel secure. My album of the year definitely exemplifies that. Starting with:

10: Secrets are Sinister - Longwave

An interesting album from 2008 with the familiar 90s feel. The overall setting of the album resembled the happy yet urban and multi-layered  atmospheric music from the likes of Interpol. I particularly liked the young-Radiohead-esque abusive guitar strokes by Steve Schiltz over the methodic rhythm-defining bass licks in the background. It's not much of a defining album really, but the vocal melodies had an effect on me. 
Must Listen: No Direction, The Devil and The Lair, Sideways Sideways Rain

9: The Eternal - Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth has been another album that I dug around, long after listening to their magnum opus Daydream Nation, which was back in 2009. I remember developing a keen ear for the clanging guitars and feedback filled breakdowns that build back into wholesome punk songs. The Eternal is yet another piece of their works, with a little more structure and focus on melodies as opposed to all their efforts on creating so many different textures in their other albums. Their comfort with such awkward guitar-tuning is still a great mystery to me. It was a strange coincidence, but I met an Italian Sonic Youth fan one New Year's Day at a nearby historic temple. 
Must Listen:  Anti-Orgasm, Antenna, Malibu Gas Station, Walking Blue

8: Help! - The Beatles

Every Beatles album has its own thing. I became more of a Beatles man during the semester exams in May 2012. This was mostly due to my need for less demanding music to accompany my all-nighters before exams, and of course that mild desperation for female company on both an emotional and intellectual level that I have had for a while now. Help is unique with its guitar arrangements and vocal harmony styles where the main melody and the harmonies are not really in sync and go on to tell their own versions of the same story. 
Must Listen: Help, The Night Before, You've got to hide your love away, Act Naturally, I've Just seen a face

7: Illusion - Isotope
After my tryst with Mahavishnu Orchestra and Brand X the year before, I had always been looking for worthwhile music from the genre. Illusion by Isotope has that standard structure of a jazz-fusion album with a grand start, a funk follow-up and then a break into phrygian scale melodies and then back into full-swing awesomeness from both the drummer and the bassist. The guitar-work is surprisingly more atmospheric, as opposed to most bands that try adding intricate lead pieces that impersonate the original brass solos of the genre. 
Must Listen: Rangoon Creeper, E-Dorian, Golden Section

6: Secret Diary - College
Best known for its track in the movie Drive(2011), College is an electronica project founded by french musician David Grellier in 2005 with loads of elements from the electroclash scene that the country has been home for. College, in Grellier's words, was an attempt "to synthesize into my music the emotions of my childhood" and was greatly influenced by American 1980s pop-culture. Filled with the good old Moog synthesizer and Roland drum machine sounds, Secret Diary is one that brings nostalgia, which is not very disturbing. 
Must Listen: End Theme, Desire, Something Wrong Tonight, The Energy Story

5: A Different Kind of Fix - Bombay Bicycle Club
I discovered Bombay Bicycle Club while exploring music soon after the Radiohead concert in June left me overwhelmed and dissatisfied with any music that I found. BBC reinforces the hope that guitar driven rock is on even today. A Different Kind of Fix is an excellent follow-up to their all-acoustic album Flaws which had won me over already. However, this album had more to offer. They have substantially developed since their debut album and grown into something so mature and modern with music that could be compared to the likes of Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio. 
Must Listen: Lights Out Words Gone, Shuffle, What You Want

4: The Clown - Charles Mingus
I would call this album an evil twin of the 50s musical Singin' in the Rain. With outstanding bass solos and brass sections that got as heavy as modern day rock, this album excels in every aspect of jazz music. This is also the first comprehensive concept-album that I've come across in the genre. It had its own dark moments and lonely solos, which then run into overwhelmingly noisy sequences.
Must Listen: Haitian Fight Song, The Clown

3: Incunabula - Autechre

I came across Autechre while checking Radiohead's list of inspirations. Needless to say, things are pretty apparent right from the first listen. However, Autechre excels in its own accord with complex rhythms and syncopation with very little ambience to spare. The ever-pulsating cymbal samples and synth sequences are a signature Autechre style with the cold bass beat that changes rhythm with each track. It was another of those albums that helped me through the nights before examinations.
Must Listen: Eggshell, Bike, Bronchus 2

2: Swing Lo Magellan - Dirty Projectors

One of the most anticipated follow-up albums on my list. Bitte Orca had already made me a huge fan of the band and Swing Lo Magellan managed to surpass all my expectations. Backed with Michael Johnson's motorik yet grungy drum lines and the female vocal harmonies guiding through the tracks, topped with occasional stylish bass melodies resulted in a unique texture over which David Longstreth wove his dark lyrics at odd-time signatures.
Must Listen: Gun Has No Trigger, Offspring are Blank, Just from Chervon

1: After the Gold Rush - Neil Young

Like I said, nothing can be as good as listening to a simple soulful album with expressive guitar and piano. Then again, After the Gold Rush is much more than just that. Neil Young demonstrates his brilliance with the flow-y falsetto vocals and attacking piano lines. I found this album at an old record store during my brief visit to the US in the winter and, instantly, it became the perfect company for all the train rides, cold walks through the American winter and the long, introspective journey back to college. The album brings back so many happy memories from childhood as Young innocently sings along to simple drum beats. The lyrical content is ineffably beautiful in true poetic sense. Starting off with a regular sounding country song, the album goes into beautifully constructed pieces, each laced with poetic, yet paradoxical lyrics that pacify and intrigue right from first listen. Along come the stylish but expressive treble-dominated guitar lines that set the mood for the latter half of the album which is comparatively warmer.
Must Listen: After the Gold Rush, Till the morning comes, Southern Man, Only Love can break your heart


2012 has been a good year when it came to me reading books. Although that statement bases itself on the number. I've read quite a few novels over the year. It started off with me hunting bookstores late 2011.
From the harsh toilet humour from Chuck Palahniuk to soul-kindling first person anecdotes from JD Salinger, I came across a number of masterpieces. But then, the best I've read this year would have to be:

Animal Farm - George Orwell

An outstanding piece of satire, cleverly taking a dig at landmark political events that occurred during the 20th century. This novel also presents an excellent insight on the mindset of leaders, power play and amazing analogy on the short-term goal oriented work of leaders and their hidden agenda. Around the time I read this novel, I opened up to the raging political issues in the country and a some of major political tactics such as propaganda and muscle-intimidation made substantially more sense to me after this book. This simple story with animals being the main characters contains sublime references to a number of real world incidents including the Perestroika and other communist acts. 
This book threw Orwell into fame and also inspired people in a variety of fields, most notable of them being the Pink Floyd album "Animals." Unlike Orwell's other works such as 1984 and Burmese Days, which are more realistic and filled with dark humour, Animal Farm gets to business as soon as it starts and takes you for a ride through the deepest places in the mind. 
This is a must read for, I'd say, everyone. 

I haven't really watched many movies this year, so there's nothing really to comment on. I've been waiting to watch some of the movies that won stuff at the Oscars, but let's see about that. 

That's with the old year wrap-up content. Okay, so I did have a lot to say. Cool.
It's ankle deep into 2013 already, and this year will certainly be a crucial year in my life as it is the time when I shall have to make important life decisions and say goodbye to a lot of things, good and bad.

I do hope to keep posting, but that's not my New Year's Resolution or anything. 

Till then, I shall return to the other place and wait there

- Sumanth

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No Direction

Hello all,
Guess it's a long long time since i posted. Although there have been moments when I hovered over the new post button, contemplating and then finally deciding against it. Right now, this is an impulsive decision and I'm in fact thinking as I write.

Way too many things have happened between my last post and this one. Literally.

To start with, I went home after a year. My parents live in the other side of the earth where it's not time to go to sleep yet. The journey was long both ways and gave me plenty of time to introspect. I have changed over last year. Yet again. It's as if every summer I go off like a clockwork wondering what my choices would be at the moment. I'm still largely indecisive. On one side I have the academic/professional career pertaining to the major I'm pursuing, and on other side there still is Music. Something that I've always loved. How much? I do not know. It's still a question I find difficult to answer. One year since the dilemma, I've continued to be reluctant to proceed either way, inching in each direction one step at a time.

My scores have improved by a good extent. Another year into college has taught me how to get by things and survive in a bad bad world. A year into my college Tech Fest's organizing team has taught me how to manage people, how to work professionally, not bringing personal judgements and opinions into picture, looking at the larger goal and putting the team first.

Summer was a different experience altogether. Visiting another country was interesting. There were things that I liked about the place, things I didn't. By nature, I did resort to comparison trying to find the cause for various things. And having not visited as a tourist, I could get a glimpse into the everyday life of an average person in that land, which I don't think everyone gets.

There were a lot of things that transpired there, although there might be a couple of things I would like to highlight. More so because they are the ones most memorable, close to my heart and two things that I had written down in my 'To Do in Life' list.

Radiohead Concert at Camden, NJ

I'm sure all of you know how much a crazy Radiohead fan I am. In fact it has become a way of identifying me at college. I take pride in it :P
Ever since Radiohead had announced their King of Limbs tour dates, I had been on the lookout for some place close to home where they'd play. I finally found one, and with great difficulty, managed to get the tickets for the front section(after the pit.)
I can't really express in words how it was to see my favourite band play my favourite songs, less than fifty meters from where I stood. I'm not quite sure if it was the spectacular music, or the lighting, or the weed smoke wafting in the air, but the whole concert is still a haze. The few videos that I took are the sole concrete memories of the concert. Otherwise, it's mostly the emotion and the adrenal rush that I tend to recall when I think about the concert. I think everyone is entitled to that ephoric sensation at least once in life. I'm certain it's beyond any form of vice to get high over music.


After a long hunt through a number of shops, I finally bought an original Mexican Fender Telecaster in Philadelphia. It is a used guitar, but sounds just fine. Almost every part of it functioning perfectly. It's another big step in life for me, to own a guitar that's technically a kin of that of my God.
I subsequently bought a Roland Cube15XL amp with basic clean and distortion channels.
I haven't much to say about this, except that it's big for me, which I've said already. I'm trying to become a better guitarist, a better musician maybe. Although I'm not sure if that's not I want to be the most.

It's third year at college, and yet another batch of juniors have arrived. I suddenly feel grown up now. I think it's time for me to assume responsibility of things, and accept being eligible for judgement by people. I still have a lot of choices to make in life, a lot of big decisions, a lot of people to consult, seek guidance and get inspired by. A lot to learn.

Until I blog again,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pseudo Life.

You run with the world.
You sit down and watch the world run.
You're still sitting down, but stop watching the world run.
The world stops running.

And then you realize that you have to run. Alone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Spent the whole of Valentine's day reading stories about Alice and Bob. Too bad even that ended in a tragedy.

If it is of no use,
It is of no harm.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Sometimes it hardly matters how good you are at what you do. The only thing that's noticed is how different it is. People want new stuff, because it gives them the chance to judge without being experienced.
So much time is wasted in differentiating oneself from the crowd that the job loses meaning. Why am I doing this? So that I can be better at it.

Be better at it and do what?
Just be better. It always comes handy.

This is my hundredth blog post. I'm impressed by how long I've held on.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turn the page.

Hello all,
This time I've managed to start this article well before New Year's Day (about 4 hours to go, that is) but I don't think I'd make it :)

This is funny, because the New Year's eve has never been so hectic and tiring so far. I've probably finished more today than yesterday, though my waking hours are comparatively less(until now)...OK. Not the point.

2011 has been among the biggest turnaround years in my conscious life so far. Last new year was the first one outside home for me. Although I might have sounded largely apathetic to my surroundings and focusing more on the end of year charts and all that in my blog last year, in reality, I was dejected, alone and maybe(definitely) depressed. That describes most of the internet addicted teens today, but in my case it was an entirely different set of reasons.

Having come back from home after Christmas, fresh with homesickness, and idle, I was at the peak of frustration and back to the days of hating my college life. I'd rather call those days worse than two years of so-called turmoil during high school, or first few months at college. It was partially based on the delusion, which I still am not sure how it occurred to me, of having a way out college very soon. It was backed by a series of events that only added Hydrogen to my hatred. In hindsight, it was more of a negative cycle where everything wrong around me backed everything else and only made me assume that things were miserable. Sure, they weren't good. But those days were a perfect example of how life is all about the way you react to things.
I don't really want to get into the Covey-ist point of view of it, but that's what it is. All it took was a change of perception. Summer was quiet. A nice break when i worked mainly on getting better with my guitar playing, learning basics of piano and reading up some physics. I also managed to watch a movie or two I suppose, and met up with old friends. Otherwise, I spent a lot of time alone in my room writing and painting abstract stuff. I also tried collaborating with friends, and recorded covers. It was short term though.

The latter part of 2011 was way different. My family had moved across the globe. Second year at college had a kick ass start. Back with old(new) friends, back to the life of night-outs, last minute assignments and such. It was lively, and probably the best semester (just 3 down, in fact :P) at college so far. I had gotten into the Media and Publicity team of our college tech fest Daksh. I became an active member of physics forum Celeritas. I'd watched more movies and listened to more music than the previous year. 2011 was not a year of Anime or Games. I've learnt substantially a lot in my subjects of interest. I've met people who inspired me, contributed to clarity in life. I'm a lot better with my guitar now. I've made more bits and pieces of music than ever.
That brings us to today. It's when you look back at such times, you realize the subtle difference between 'unforgettable' and 'memorable.' I had experiences of both categories and cherish many of them. :)

Talking of 2011, it's been most eventful in other aspects as well. Osama was killed. Prince got married. India won the cricket world cup. CERN has stumbled upon discoveries supporting the Higgs Boson(or the God Particle) theory. I'm proud I witnessed these :D

My frequency of blogging has reduced this year. I take it as a good sign; it only means I'm having a good life that makes me independent of the societies in the cyberworld. That said, I couldn't help have trollfaces rising in my reverie often. :P

Like I've been doing for years now, here comes the End Of Year Chart section :)

I'd start with movies. I've watched more Hindi movies this year than before. It's great to see great films coming up from the Indian film industry everyday. Each picking up a new direction, telling new stories, bringing new emotions...the best being:

5.7Khoon Maaf
4.Dhobi Ghat 
3.Delhi Belly:

I would indeed call it a revolution in Indian Cinema. This is a movie that will be referenced to for years. With a nonsensical story backed by an eclectic plethora of local Delhi expletives, this movie gives an entire new look to humour in movies. Sure, toilet humour has been a thing in the west for years, but it's not everyday bold movies such as this one release. Also, the cheesy 70s references and absurd but epic sequences such as fireworks exploding out of a sitar are something that shall keep one laughing.

2.Zindagi na Milegi Dobara:

A very casual take on lives of three people, not very different from the production house's earlier venture Dil Chahta Hai in some ways. The story describes a reunion of friends over a road-trip during which they eventually get over their fears, learn to see bigger things in life and, importantly, live. Every character was well moulded and the entire movie had a subtle approach. The title literally translates to 'you don't get to live life twice' which is what the movie drove through, at the end. Personally, I found it pretty inspiring and saw the need to live life to fullest and enjoy every tiny bit of beauty.


A one-of-a-kind movie. Not everyday you get to see a drug film with little or no commercial appeal. Shaitan was a refreshing change from most crime films in India. With a perfect mix of cold disturbance of Aranofsky and dark humour of Danny Boyle and Guy Ritchie, the movie has an entirely new texture that took people by surprise. Being more than just an addiction based thriller, the movie was about the evil in people. Besides, the original soundtrack of the movie was among the best Indian albums this year. Khoya Khoya Chand as background music was almost as cold and amazing at the same time as Singin' in the Rain in A Clockwork Orange. In all, the movie was an ingenious piece of art that actually grew on me over time.

Funny that almost all the movies in english that I watched this year were older ones. The only ones I had watched were Pirates of The Carribean 4 and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. The latter was quite good. I was surprised at the flawless translation of all the comical elements from the book into a movie. I must say, Spielberg at his best once again. :)
Among the older movies, my favourites were Requiem for a Dream(2000), Singin' In the Rain(1952) and Dead Poets Society(1989.)

I'm yet to watch some of the really good movies of the year, both Indian and English, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, X-Men First Class, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Dirty Picture, Shor in the City and Don-2.

I've watched two foreign (non-english) films this year and both were awesome in their own way.
One of them is Amelie, the cute beautiful coming of age story of a lonely girl set in france. The other is the original swedish movie rendition of the Stieg Larsson novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(of which David Fincher recently made an American version,) which is a dark, disturbing story with a raging conflagration of religion, cyber-crime, sex and journalism set in Sweden.

Musically, 2011 had been a great year for me from the beginning. Over this year, I've listened to 36 albums, including new and old ones. Like always, my charts have albums that may have released any time. Not in 2011.

The best being:

10.From the Yellow Door EP - Noise Noir
9.The Year of Hibernation - Youth Lagoon
8.Mylo Xyloto - Coldplay
7.Take Care, Take Care, Take Care - Explosions in the Sky
6.The Inner Mounting Flame - Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Inner Mounting Flame is among the earliest albums in from the american Jazz/Rock fusion scene. Apparently, the band front man had visited India and attained 'enlightenment' after which he named his band so. With energetic drumlines at odd time signatures layered with intricate bass and organ solos and guitar riffs, the album as a whole is an intense piece of art that keeps you up and going with the little funk that you need. The dark violin accompaniments, often played with piano sequences create a perfect acoustic and ambient atmosphere at the same time. In all, Inner Mounting Flame is a very apt title with all the energy in music and opened me to an entire new genre.

5.Real Life - Magazine
This is definitely one of the most iconic post punk albums after Closer and Script of the Bridge. Unlike the rhythm experiments of Joy Division or atmospherics of The Chameleons, Magazine gives melody driven tracks with mild maturity and evolution from conventional punk rock. John McGeoch's eccentric yet melodic guitar hooks propel the entire track with the usual part baritone vocals. There's little or no experimentation on the rhythm sections of the songs, unlike most post punk bands that I've listened to. But the guitar work is probably just as great as that of Bernard Sumner. I had come across Magazine when I read about McGoech, who happens to be the inspiration for Jonny Greenwood :D

4.Pygmalion - Slowdive
Slowdive is a popular shoegaze band from the early 90s who were largely inspired by the music direction started off by My Bloody Valentine. After their first two albums, Just For A Day, and Souvlaki, this album was a huge shock. To be honest, I was less surprised on listening to Kid A after the old guitar driven Radiohead. Pygmalion is easily among the greatest musical experiments that I've come across which beautifully illustrate the fact that one doesn't need great skills to make good music. Of course, Helstead and Goswell are highly skilled and talented people, but most tracks on Pygmalion, when musically interpreted, are surprisingly simple and complete at the same time. Besides, the depth achieved with such minimalist instrumentation and atmospherics is great. Like many say, I doubt a follow up can ever be made to this album.

3.Xx - The Xx
Xx is the debut album of the English indie band of the same name, and I must say, for a debut album, this is pretty bold. The level of clear instrumentation and risky music is clear. Not many bands have achieved this. Not even the greats like Arcade Fire or Radiohead. The music is an icy beautiful mixture of digital beats with intertwined guitar and bass solos and catchy duets that give each song the dynamics it needs. The album also has a lot of synthesizer usage mainly for harmony and atmospherics.

2.Strange Mercy - St.Vincent
After listening to Actor two years ago, I was sure Annie Clark would come up with more interesting work branching out of pop music. Strange Mercy has precisely that. Besides the different style of singing with pitch bends at ends, she has also tried a lot many things on guitar (at times abusing it) giving a very rough resonating sound to the entire album which moves in and out of choir like rhythms. She has kept on to the pleasant verses/loud choruses structure which once again has worked in its favour.

1.The King of Limbs - Radiohead
Most of you would say that was obvious that Radiohead would top my list. To be honest, though I had written a particularly elaborate review praising their latest album, I found myself not really liking tKoL over months. But one evening, I found this. And when i watched it, I knew I had found God. Once again.

This was when I realized the true ingenuity of The King of Limbs. Up until then, I had regarded it as a minimalist electronica album that heavily depended on samples and mixing. The fact that Radiohead creates electronica with minimal use of electronic and digital instruments is what makes it awesome. 
I'm sorry about the mirror imaging. Couldn't find a better video. 

Talking about novels, I've read two of them. One is Death Instinct, which is a sequel to the popular Jed Rubenfeld novel The Interpretation of Murder. Another is the Stieg Larsson bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm currently reading it's sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Yeah, so with that done, I'm close to ending this blog post. There's not much left to talk about what happened last year. Ah, yes. It's last year already. It's 3.30am. So yeah, it's good to see an entire year ahead of me with flower beds and landmines waiting to treat me as they'd love to.

Jump off the end
The water's clear and innocent