MUSIC Pentagram, with their distinct electro rock sound, make an odd but interesting choice to feature on MTV India’s Unplugged this season
For all the years they’ve spent making the masses dance and rock out (at the same time) at their gigs, Pentagram, with their distinct electro rock sound, make an odd but interesting choice to feature on MTV India’s Unplugged this season. The popular format, which involves artists performing their well-known songs in a stripped-down, acoustic format, has previously hosted Indian acts such as Advaita and Raghu Dixit.
But now it’s Pentagram’s turn, and vocalist Vishal Dadlani says the band finally found a week free to sit down and put a different spin on tracks from their four albums.
Interestingly, Pentagram had never previously played an acoustic set of their songs in their career spanning 19 years. Guitarist Randolph Correia says the experience of just playing their own songs live for so long certainly helped. He adds, “We ended up re-arranging six of our best tunes inside of an hour and then (spent) three days of rehearsals with the band, plus two excellent sessions musicians. Having said these, I was still bloody scared till we finished recording/filming.” Dadlani, while agreeing about knowing songs inside and out, felt the experience was “no biggie.” The vocalist adds: “We didn’t go for the massive orchestration approach, just really simple, groovy acoustic versions, the kind we play for ourselves, every now and then.”
With the rawest possible form of each song, as Dadlani calls it, Pentagram’s Unplugged session included one track each from their first three albums – ‘The Ignorant One’ from We’re Not Listening , ‘Drive’ from Up, ‘Voice’ from It’s Ok , It’s All Good – and four from their last album, Bloodywood : ‘Must I’, ‘Nocturne’, ‘Human Failings’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Decided’.
Despite Correia’s apprehensions, the guitarist did believe that every Pentagram song, no matter how steeped in electro beats, could be transformed in an acoustic setting. Says Correia, “But we always love putting ourselves through a bit of a challenge and decided to transform most of our heavier tunes. One should never underestimate the power of acoustic music. I spent many years playing acoustic (guitar) before I had my first electric guitar and still practice on an acoustic at home, so it was that difficult. Plus, I wasn’t attempting any stunts or gymnastics on an acoustic.” Dadlani adds, “For us, the electronics are just another instrument, not a crutch, so I’d think we could pull off acoustic versions of all our stuff!”
With the band, including drummer Shiraz Bhattacharya and bassist Papal Mane, thoroughly satisfied with their stint at going unplugged and turning it down a notch, it might soon be time for Pentagram’s first acoustic gig. Correia’s up for it, because he feels it was “insane fun” to tape the episode while Dadlani takes a dig at a trend in rock and roll history. He jokes, “We’re contemplating breaking up and reuniting so we can take an acoustic tour on the road, in the great tradition of big bands everywhere!”