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     Volume 5 Issue 80 | January 27, 2006 |

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Rise of the Underground

Faizul Khan Tanim

Underground music in Bangladesh traces its origins from the days of the release of Isha Khan Duray's mixed band album Charpotro, produced by the record label G-series in 2001.

Many people term that period as a rock music rebellion. The music admirers knew what they deserved and this was the beginning of the end of the commercial bands' domination over their more experimental and talented contemporaries.

It was then that today's new breed of artistes shook up audiences with an different style of music which was a mix of quite a few different genres, and became the mesmerising figures of the current scene, creating bands like Aurthohin, Artcell, Black, and Cryptic Fate.

In rugged jeans and T-shirts sporting social messages, they lived a high-paced life and played as fast as they lived. With the new sound in concert halls and all the technological advancements, the new bands ushered in a new era, not only in music, but also in terms of the effect they had on the lives of the urban youth.

In 2002, a new music label started catering to this scene. Ektaar Music brought out many new artistes. Bangla, Pothik Nobi, and later Habib, started to create an uproar with their creative compositions, and folk music fused with contemporary sounds the basis of a number of huge hits.

Progress of work in a digital recording studio

These musicians, in due to their trendy native attire, poetic vision, and urgent lyrics inflamed the spirits and psyche of the younger generation.

Today more and more new groups of obvious virtuosity are coming out every day. The underground music scene is thriving like never before. Generally speaking, underground music has developed a cult following, independent of commercial success.

The Velvet Underground for instance, remains one of the most influential bands of their time, with an influence that has outlasted their short existence and small record sales.

Since then, the term underground music has been applied to several artistic movements, notably to the early psychedelic movement of the mid-1960s across the globe.

The term is currently used to describe contemporary music of non-mainstream musical exponents, the actual specific genre or style being more or less unimportant in determining one's underground status. In fact, some notable mainstream musicians have started to take issue with the word 'underground' and the scene itself as their own records have been eclipsed by them. Not understanding the significance of the scene, they are trying to create confusion among the fans in their interviews with the local media.

According to 27 year-old musician Kamrul: "The existing labels should stop listening to the phony versions of these so-called musicians and encourage the new talents. They are still stuck with their age-old roster of band musicians."

In the words of another enthusiast: "It is time that new labels like Arshee come into action to accompany G-series and Ektaar to complement the new trend and era of music."

As one of the musical icons Maqsood of Dhaka and ex-Feedback, whose socio-political lyrics brought about a revolution in the mind-set of his listeners, says: "It is high time that the face of music should change. I would much more appreciate ten different bands producing different types of compositions instead of one hundred groups following one. There should be variations. "The Bangla band listeners have a diverse music taste now and the groups should properly contribute to this scene. An interesting phase of music is going on at the moment and definitely for the bands doing commercial music and producing twelve albums a year for their livelihood -- their game is gone! This is 2005 and we need fresh music changing the face of this industry."

James -- known universally as the Nagar Baul (the City Bard) -- was the pioneer of psychedelic rock in the local scene and can be termed something of a guru for young musicians. He thinks the new generation is making a tremendous effort to produce international quality music.

"It is a very welcome change for contemporary music in the country. They term themselves as underground bands and their tunes are fresh and full of life. But they need to pay a little more attention to the lyrics. This change will definitely upset a few of the traditional musicians but their fight must go on. They are doing great!" says the charismatic James.

Music enthusiast Russell, upon buying the latest CDs from an audio shop says: "This new trend of music should be channeled properly and must reach even the remotest parts of the country because a change should come to our listening habits."

The Internet has played a major role in promoting Bangla music, especially rock and

An underground band performing on stage

fusion, as acknowledged by most musicians. Web portals from different organisations are actually hosted by the passionate listeners. It needs a handsome amount of money to run these sites, usually paid out of their own pockets. They thus upload rare, latest hit songs, and share them over the World Wide Web free of charge is quite a noble gesture.

Many bands and their songs were promoted via this media and this in fact is one of the best and fastest ways to hear good new music. The Internet has surely taken our music one step ahead -- amaderGaan.com and Bangladeshinfo.com are two of the best and

most popular sites right now promoting both mainstream and underground music through online streaming or online radio. Other forums promoting underground music are uginc.org and tunesbd.com.

Television channels are also airing programmes such as Rock Link hosted by celebrity musicians Sumon of Aurthohin and Jewel of Miles, showing very exhilarating music videos and interviews of popular bands. Ferdous Bappi's Music Express is another show on TV which caters to a great audience across the country.

The contemporary music scene is more original and vibrant than it has ever been. Young artists are synthesising and reconstructing music of high quality, making sure that the music world will never be the same again.

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