Kolkata rock band Kendraka is back with a new line-up and an album as well
How much musical space can a traditional bass-drum-guitar trio explore? That is the question that Kendraka 3.19, the third line-up of the band, assembled in 2019, attempts to find out. Subhagata Singha aka Rivu, 25, their newest member, brings a neo-age psychedelic guitar edge to Kendraka’s sound, which has taken an oriental turn as composer Mainak ‘Bumpy’ Nag Chowdhury plays the 25-string, double-necked Maitrayee Bass — an Indian hybrid of the electric bass. Added to this are the traditional percussive instruments of the bangladhol and dubki, played by Gaurab ‘Gaboo’ Chatterjee, besides the drums! The result is a whole new world of sounds and boundless exploration.
“I attempted to play Indian styles on the electric bass in previous albums. Having the Maitrayee bass, I find old compositions coming back to me, with different characteristics. I am an Indian bass player and the music coming out now is what I really want to play... It’s our culture,” offers Bumpy, explaining how the instrument changed his style of playing, and the band’s sound. “Some songs that I couldn’t compose, due to the instrument’s limitations, can be done now.” Kendraka’s discography boasts of four albums — Tathastu (2010), The Candy Album (2011), Root Map (2012), The Basel Diaries (2014) and an EP single, 4:30 am (2015).
A couple of songs from each album are being reworked at the moment, including Transitions in Monsoon, Bangla Funcology, 27 Steps to Chaos, Moon Dance in KL (Kuala Lumpur), and Mohona. Two new unnamed tracks are also in the pipeline. With the exception of Nuclear, all songs have intriguing stories — re-discovering playing styles, dancing to funk music into the wee hours of the morning, personal emotions, missing home, watching rain clouds from a window, and other random experiences. If one had to pinpoint Kendraka’s musical genre, the best bet would be the shared space of jazz, Indian classical and psychedelia.
“Our music is a conversation,” offered Bumpy, “The wider perspectives we have, the less we have to talk. And the more we listen, the more wisdom we gain.” Talking about Rivu, he exclaims, “He’s young and incredible! He picked up some compositions of mine in two weeks, which had taken me a year to master.” With this new lineup and re-envisioned songs, Kendraka plans to go into the studio very soon. Except for the first two albums, all were recorded abroad. To keep the tradition alive, they plan to record this one in Dhaka, Bangladesh.