Stringing together Carnatic and Hindustani genres on the same pulse is rhythm band Taalization

The lights come on slowly as an effortless combination of notes fills the audience with anticipation of what is to come. Almost immediately, the beats blitz in, sending a plethora of rhythmic music into the awed crowd. A rush of cadence beats exuded off the stage of Kyra theatre as Taalization delivered a heart thumping performance recently.

Blending a concoction of familiar traditional and contemporary styles that transcend music heard before, they believe everything orbits around the taal or rhythm. Taalization is the brainchild of tabla player and percussionist Muthu Kumar, drummer Karthik Mani and bass guitarist Dwight Pattison. Though coming from completely contrasting roots, the rhythm junkies have crafted an intensely elaborate conglomeration of beats to generate some exquisite music.

The idea behind Taalization was to blend Carnatic and Hindustani music. “Both are totally different concepts but we decided to bridge this north-south divide and come up with something that is distinct,” says Karthik. Formed just over a year ago, the Bangalore-based band has already rendered over 40 shows and taken their music across the country. They are also on the verge of an international tour.

“We call ourselves a rhythmic civilisation or a civilisation of taal. Karthik brainstormed the name. We found the idea contemporary and quite appealing,” claims Muthu. Being freelance musicians, the duo happened to meet at different gigs and decided to concentrate on experimenting. “Since drummers are never in the forefront in a typical band setup, we wanted to highlight our music exclusively; thus came Taalization.” Dwight pitched in soon after and is an invaluable asset to the band with his synchronised bass movements and tight soundscapes. Their compositions are intelligently and logically developed.

“Using software we loop simple melodic grooves and build our rhythmic patterns over them. The patterns are so tightly placed that we offer ourselves no margin for error. With that kind of clockwork precision, our compositions demand maximum concentration and we cannot afford to miss even a single beat,” explain Muthu and Dwight. “As a band we have found ourselves an ocean of music to explore and exploit. While having fun, we aim to successfully take our music out to the world,” adds Muthu jubilantly.

Each of their work is loaded with ingenious creativity. “Takita dha” is a perfect example of their mélange of Carnatic and Hindustani music. “Dark Morning” is a remake of a morning raga that has dark elements interspersed within the tune. “Sol Mix” is a crowd favourite that indulges a vocal fantasy of taal, while “Groovenamaha” is a tribute to groove music. “Sitar Gaze” has melodic sitar ingredients and “India Street” is a look at the busy life on the country’s highway.

Playing the tabla since he was four, Muthu Kumar trained under maestros such as Ustad Alla Rakha, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Yogesh Samsi and has learnt tabla and percussion. Son and disciple of renowned mridanga maestro T.A.S. Mani, Karthik Mani’s brilliant technique on the drums has enabled him to incorporate a repertoire of genres into his style. A producer for advertising and albums, Dwight Pattison has already played for international artistes and bands such as Adnan Sami, Leslie Lewis, Gary Lawyer and Krozzwindz among others.

An album is expected to be launched soon with an assortment of their best compositions. Their music can be checked out at www.taalization.com