Bombay Showcase

To listen and not just hear

Sound palettes:Bandra’s St. Jude Bakery will host seven performances  

debilitating lack of available performance venues in Mumbai has, in recent times, led facilitators and performers of experimental music to smaller, unconventional spaces to peddle their talents. And while independent music in India continues to flit through unending waves of painfully slow progression coupled with the ubiquitous white-worship, experimental Indian music is afforded neither the infrastructure nor the time for it to develop into something mature. In 2016 Mumbai, you’ll be hard pressed to find sponsor-less, standalone musical events, especially at a time where corporations are cashing in on the new ‘culture of cool’ and music is being inextricably tied to a new line of jeans or shoes or beer or food. What we’re being left to waddle is this: beer-and-burger-variety musical programming, consumed passively at best. That music in the digital age is being relegated to muzak or elevator music spells danger. Both artistes and fans stand to lose a whole lot if the current trend becomes the blueprint, assuming it hasn’t already.

In some part, The Listening Room, just six editions old at the time of writing this article, but still very much in its nascent stages of development, aims to change that. It’s a travelling, transitional art residency of sorts that cobbles together in its diverse programmes a mix of amateur and professional sound artistes. The Listening Room has allowed musicians from nearly all of India’s big metros thus far, to exhibit and road-test the kind of music that was previously confined to bedroom studios or the one-off background performance at an art show. Sound palettes at The Listening Room have varied. There have been classical-leaning piano pieces accompanied by analogue electronics to machine-led modular sound synthesis and experiments in the resurgent genres of noise and drone music. It has made for the kind of shows that are at once revelatory and challenging to the untrained and perhaps unspoiled ear.

“The nexus of venues, agents and promoters that is curating music to help sell food and drink leaves little room for risk-taking and this presents a real concern,” says Rana Ghose of the artist development and booking agency REProduce Artists. The documentary filmmaker began The Listening Room about two months ago because he felt a real need for alternative music programming, but also as a gut reaction to what he had been thinking about for a while: “That musical artistry is at a point where it’s well versed with its current environment. There’s a need for the wider breadth of music that doesn’t get heard because of the current business model,” he says. “When I started this, I realised soon that it became a thing in my life — a Sunday that artistes seem to dig and the people that attend have no problems paying for.”

Tomorrow’s edition of The Listening Room is the second in the city and follows a neat showing at Project 88 in Colaba eight weeks ago. The previous edition featured three musical performances: producers Sanaya Ardeshir and Kumail plus Kolkata noise act JESSOP&CO. But this Sunday afternoon, Bandra’s St. Jude Bakery will host seven performances, and they’re diverse enough for fans of all kinds of experimental music to consider attending.

Sanaya Ardeshir will reproduce her piano and electronics-led showing from Project 88; Kolkata’s JESSOP&CO’s Anupal Adhikary, now a Listening Room regular, will experiment with various sound-producing objects including the then-household Walkman. Mumbai’s Himanshu Pandey aka United Machines, a purveyor/rare performer of analogue electronic equipment; and Peter Cat Recording Co. guitar player Kartik Pillai aka Jamblu who will pair up with Mumbai-based harpist Anushka Lewis for a performance that will blend rhythmic and percussive gymnastics with the familiar resonance of the stringed harp. From the mountains of Leh, there’s Ruhail Kaizer, under the pseudonym Sister, will perform a cathartic piece stemming from his new project, one he’s referred to as “a ritual of inner murder”.

Among the handful-plus-two are some first-time performers as well. Kolkata producer and digital artist Varun Desai, aka 5volts, is no stranger to experiments in sound and vision, and he’ll pair up with dance producer and drummer Fuzzy Logic for a new performance piece. And finally, there’s Aditya Nandwana: sole builder at his own boutique, modular electronic equipment firm, Animal Factory Amplification. This will be Nandwana's first-ever live performance. By his own admission, he is not a musician but rather a sonic explorer. He will however try and channel The Listen Room’s no-limits philosophy through his performance. “I think of The Listening Room platform as a disruptive venue that encourages sonic experimentation, a concept I’m very interested in. I’d like to do justice to that.”

The Listening Room, St. Jude Bakery, Bandra, April 10. Donor passes: Rs 300.

It’s a travelling art residency of sorts that cobbles together the amateur and

the professional

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 12:20:51 AM |

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