In these chaotic and unpredictable times, for me at least, music has been crucial in keeping my sanity intact. I’ve been venturing out endlessly into latest releases globally as well as into content from within the Indian music scene. One such odd yet maniacally bewitching album I looked eagerly forward to is Serpents Of Pakhangba’s self titled album. With the promising debut they made at Control Alt Delete 12 earlier this year, this album is truly profound both sonically as well as in deliverance. Conducted by Amogh Symphony fame multi-instrumentalist Vishal J. Singh, the lineup includes Manas Chowdhury on bass, Aruna Jade on vox, synth/keys, Fidel Dely Murillo on Drums & Percussion and Vishal himself on Guitars and Guitar-Synth.
This album explores sound and expression, taking you through their roots of theatrical and noise-art. The album opens with ‘Invocation’, the track creating an out-worldly atmosphere. Being the first track of the album, it sets the bar high from the first second
of it being played. Aruna’s vocals create a spiritual ambiance, with both maturity and the innocence of a child, a factor of contrasts noticed throughout the EP with the different techniques she uses, both in her spoken manner as well as singing.
‘Headhunters’ on the other hand, is whimsically beautiful, odd yet congenially temperamental. Its more playful but as you dive into it lyrically, you see the dark side of emotional turmoil in it. The track is about overcoming being chased and hunted as a result of honor and superstition. Sonically, this close to 6 minute track is chaotically energetic, moody and angry. The nature of it is so playfully wild specially with Aruna’s cartoony vocals, one might take a while to understand the complexity of emotions here.
By this time, the album has unapologetically established that they’re certainly not here to ease it out for the listeners in order to be liked. With the instruments used, this track brings out the true sound of Serpents in ways unexpected, creating a variety of genres within.
‘I.M.A’ on the other hand, featuring Tamara Mayela on violins brings in a calmer folk mood, talking about the love and strength for Mother. This track is more like an ode to nature and the creators. What you might notice by the time you’re playing the 4th track
is that it is truly one hell of a thoughtfully and intricately done album. Transcendental energy maintained through every song, through meaning and sound. Whats even more strikingly visible is the variety of sound and unprecedented melodies throughout. Most of what you hear are elements handled by drums, vocals, guitars and bass, put together in a concoction that cuts through like psychedelic euphoria. Over the album, there’s an air of acceptance and peace as well as unexpected plunges into madness.
‘Mountain Spirits’ takes you through the realism of human greed and destruction that needs to be avenged via nature’s wrath. This track features some angry riffs and an intense bassline. Aruna’s vocals here truly come through, her screeches almost painful. She’s done a brave move here, singing in four different voices depicting the anger of the spirits of nature. Now, the album has taken a Mars Volta like rigorous virtuosity, hysterical and more metal in feel. This track alone sounds a like a little bit of every genre ranging from heavy to folk, hitting you in odd time signatures. A thought could occur that maybe even through their sound, the album is aptly depicting conflict and the bipolar nature of humans resulting in consequences. The instrumentation on the entire album is meaty and convoluted.
Thus Sings the Midwife of Planetary Transformation’ for me, personally, is the track that sums up the purpose of the band perfectly. This 11 minute track is focusing more on instruments, putting together a sound of believed Universal behaviour and changes, marking different periods of highs and lows, of subtle cruising alternating with upheavals of major changes. So much duality felt in this track, one almost feels like they’re meeting another self within, with Aruna’s laughing and maniacal spoken manner adding it it.
Serpents of Pakhangba is not a one time hear album. With every listen, there’s some part of you that will relate to a different element in it and figure out a
a whole new spectrum. It’s a take on the relationship between nature and humans in modern day sound. This album features 7 tracks and with this glorious debut, its not hard to believe they’re easily one of the most complexly expanded
releases of the year.
Author : Vanshika Tewary