Life & Style

Swarathma’s new album and a graphic comic

The folk-fusion band’s third album, Raah-e-Fakira, now comes with a visual treat

Jishnu Dasgupta is at the printers when I call him late on a Thursday. The bass guitarist and vocalist of Swarathma, the Indian folk-fusion band from Bengaluru, is picking up the teasers of their new graphic comic.

With two-page spreads that interpret their eight new songs as stories, limited editions will be available at their upcoming concerts, to coincide with the launch of their third album, Raah-e-Fakira. “Most songs have stories behind them — inspired by an incident or a thought. So, in the absence of CDs (who listens to them any more?), we decided to collaborate with another kind of storyteller, graphic artists, to tell these visually,” explains Dasgupta.

The five-member band are all fans of graphic art — they have won awards for their album artwork in the past, designed by vocalist Vasu Dixit — but this time they turned to Kolkata collective, Ghost Animation.

“We connected over Instagram. Their songs are quite detailed and there was a lot of back and forth as we interpreted them, creating stories that stayed true to the narrative,” says Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, a partner at the collective.

Swarathma’s new album and a graphic comic

Each story is illustrated by a different artist, bringing freshness to every page. “From detailed work, realistic colours to large single panels, the treatments are very different. In my story, I wanted the colours to take the reader across the two pages. So it starts off yellow and transitions to purple, across eight-nine panels each,” he adds.

The album is a DIY in-house production, recorded at their six-month-old studio, The Red Music Box (run by guitarist Varun Murali). While there are a few issue-driven songs in the mix (they have written songs on religion, politics, child abuse and the like in the past), most are inward looking. And the songwriting, Dasgupta feels, reflects the band’s current state of mind.

After 10 years, their sound has changed too. “While retaining its Indian identity and earthiness, it has imbibed a lot of different kinds of music we have been listening to,” he shares. “There is a greater sense of the contemporary in this album; there are more electronic layers that enhance the sound.”

Next up, they will be working on a music video for the song Sangat ki Rangat, on which they collaborated with Indian Ocean drummer, Amit Kilam.

Catch Swarathma live in Mumbai (October 7), New Delhi (October 13), Udaipur (October 20) and Bengaluru (October 21). Raah-e-Fakira is streaming on Saavn. Download the comic on

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:19:19 AM |

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