Music

New symphony

MAKING MUSIC Members of Tharang Reloaded.

MAKING MUSIC Members of Tharang Reloaded.  

Tharang Reloaded explored the possibilities of skilled musicians coming together

When violinist Manoj George sprung up from the audience and walked onto stage playing frighteningly fast notes on his open-bodied electric violin, one knew the evening would hold many such musical surprises. He was soon joined by a bass line on Jocy Johns’ eight-stringed bass guitar, a mandolin solo from music director Berny, and a keyboard lead from Prakash Ulliyeri, all well-backed by Shomi Davis on drums and Mahesh Mani on the tabla. These musicians make Tharang Reloaded — a band put together by India Elements — which played its maiden concert at JTPac recently.

Their opening piece was titled ‘Flames’ and composed by Manoj. Prior to this, New-Zealand based singer Jessie Hillel had rendered two powerful numbers.

For this concert, Tharang was joined by singer Abhay Jodhpurkar, best remembered for his Tamil song ‘Moongil Thottam’ composed by A.R. Rahman. And sure enough, Abhay began his innings with the track, playing every bit the love-struck lad as he sang. He moved on to a cover of ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from the film Aashiqui 2, with Manoj soloing the soothing melody on his violin at the song’s close. Through the course of the night, Abhay presented many popular Hindi hits such as ‘Badtameez Dil’ and a Mohammed Rafi classic, besides attempting several Malayalam pieces, quite successfully too.

Tharang then took over with an electric performance of their original composition by Prakash, based on Raag Keeravani. The piece featured trade-offs between the keyboard and the tabla, laced with Mahesh’s complex konnakol rhythms. It ended with Prakash and Manoj throwing notes at each other before blending seamlessly into a close. “We’ve all played with each other on stage at some point in our careers. So when Manoj of India Elements, suggested that we get together as a band, we knew we would be comfortable together,” said Prakash of the band’s origins. Their originals are often sparked by a musical idea that one of the artistes has which is fleshed out by the others’ interpretations of the same.

On stage though, everything depends on how the audience reacts, added Manoj. Their instrumental piece merging Mozart’s 25th Symphony with Ilaiyaraaja's ‘Veetukku Veetukku Vaasappadi’ was an example of the same. The audience was immediately drawn in, singing along with Ilaiyaraaja’s tune and humming Mozart’s melody. Before the evening’s interval, Manoj kept the crowd engaged by playing much-loved songs from the best of early Bollywood. “I don’t believe there’s any such thing as old music or new music,” said Manoj. “”It’s all about good songs that stick with you over time.”

The second half of the show was a celebration of each musician’s prowess, starting with elaborate solos by Shomi and Mahesh leading into a jugalbandi between them. The highlight of the evening was another instrumental original titled ‘Chase’ which talks about life: “Are we chasing life, or is it chasing us?” asked Manoj. In keeping with the theme the song flew up and down the scale chasing highs on the violin and keyboard alongside Jocy’s superb slap bass lead — the most memorable part of the night. Through the performance though, one missed the presence of a good lead guitarist, although Prakash’s solos on the keyboard in guitar tones made up for that periodically. By the concert’s conclusion, it was clear how skilled the individual musicians comprising Tharang were; as a cohesive band, they’re still exploring their possibilities.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 12:14:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/new-symphony/article5609585.ece

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