Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013

Album Review

Otol Joler Gaan Fluidity of melody

a03Joler Gaan, a folksy-fusion group of eccentric musicians looking to create new sounds, released debut album “Otol Joler Gaan” recently, and delivered to the promise it had shown in live performances previously.

The album opens with “Pata’r Gaan”, a happy song phrased in the form of a monologue to an upbeat arrangement that immediately hooks the listener. Next comes “Dure Thaka Megh”, in a more melancholic tone — with wailing notes of bowed string instruments and touchy lyrics. This is followed up with “Brishti’r Gaan”, a free-flowing song catching the essence of a rainy day in a village.

“Kagojer Nouka”, the next track on queue, circles back to the joviality of the opening song. Short, simple-worded lyrics dance along a harmonica-and-guitar background in a catchy pattern on a loop.

“Bokul Phool” is track 5, and is one of the most popular tracks of the album. Flavours of folk are strong in this one, starting from the tune, the use of ektara, the rural-accented lyrics and the bold vocal projections.

The next song, “Aayna”, hits the listeners with a surprise after a beautiful intro — a raw, earthy female voice. The interludes are slightly elongated, building up into a crescendo near the third quarter of the track with a lovely backing of an acoustic double-bass.

“Jhora Pata’r Gaan” opens with a dramatic intro, and the opening verse catches the listener with its lyrical intensity. Percussion work is beautifully expressive here, with a humming back-vocal through almost the entire lyric and a very theatrical arrangement.

“Urchhi Keno?” is the next song, characterised by subtle works of the violin on a flute-strong track. Transition patterns and vocal throws set this track apart, along with an interesting close.

“Rong’er Gaan” follows, back into the groove of carefree singing and the instruments playing along almost casually. The next track (“Emon Jodi Hoto”) begins with chirping birds and a strum of the guitar, while the vocal ponders how awesome it would be if he were a bird or a butterfly. The last track, “Baula Batash”, almost leaves the listener with a sadness that the album has come to a close. The track remains “hollow” during the high-octave vocal parts, as if to almost bid adeiu to the listeners.

The album is rich yet easy; lyrically and musically, there is experimentation, but it never goes haywire. The signature of Joler Gaan’s music is its connection to nature — and that remains the most striking feature of the album. The band’s lineup includes Rahul Anand, Kanak Aditya, Jarnal, Rana Sarwar, Shariful Islam, Sanjay, ABS Xem and Shyamal; most of them are from the fine arts background and/or currently involved with theatre, and that impression is left on the album — be it in the innovative arrangements or use of ambient sounds.

It’s safe to say this refreshing album will find its place in the playlists of anyone who loves melody and nature.