Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, December 24, 2009

The songs of the Valkyrie

By Tareq Adnan

"And thus did the angels bestow unto man, the rituals of the last days. A trumpet would sound, the seas would churn and the earth would heave. One among the mortals would sing the songs of destruction.”

Music inspires men to don leather breeches and spend their savings on an electric guitar, which consequently helps them not pay the rent on time. Music inspires them to run on stage and steal Taylor Swift's acceptance moment, but in that case it was more booze than music.

Music, however rarely, does sometimes inspire chronic fear, a need to puke and take a shower. Or huddle in a corner clutching your ears in the hopes that the litany in your head stops in time. You wish you hadn't listened.

Sometimes you have no choice in listening. A creaking tea-stall, one of those cuboids of corrugated tin with a small brazier set up out front a rickety bench for customers. Kettles hyperventilated on the brazier and a little cassette player from within the cube of the shop churned out a turned down song. You are not really expected to pay attention to the song, but you might just notice though.

Momtaz is known to us because of the fact that she manages to pull off her heft with aplomb without ever becoming self conscious, so much so that she actually sang a song about women being at ease with how they look. Of course “Amar Nogno Deho” might be interpreted differently by some who take art literally, but that's not how to go about doing things right?

Furthermore, Momtaz might just be the most modern of our current batch of musicians working the market. With “Ei Juger Chelera” she takes on the modern man head on. Although some might find her way of doing it questionable, what with lyrics that would make a burlesque dancer blush but like we said before, you must learn to interpret art, rather than just… we've lost our logic here but we'll get back to you on that.

Relationships take a long time to coalesce and congeal into that scab called marriage but when it does, saccharine sugaryness is usually the scenario (not the blood and gore scene the metaphor might have suggested… although its not that far off). Momtaz, being the consummate artist who works with almost all aspects of life, has her take on relationships as well. With “Hanimune Jamu” (we didn't spell it wrong, no we didn't) she talks about… Okay we were censored here but you get the idea. It's the thought that counts eh?

And she just doesn't stop

at conjugal life either. She talks about love and falling in love and illicit love (?) and quite a few others which, until recently were unknown as forms of affection. Umm… Anyway, with “Darogar Choto Chele” she deals with such topics. We would now at this point go into talking about the song but that would have meant listening to it. Writing is fun but we try not to torture ourselves doing it. Really.

What's life without food? The connoisseur would wax prolific about tastes and flavour and Momtaz proves to be one too. She is a woman who does not shy away when talking about how much she likes to eat. “Khabi Amar Jhaal?” is one such number that she… oh, I think we misinterpreted somewhere here… Ah. Well, you get the idea. Hopefully. The decent idea that is.

And while we discuss art and good food let us not forget the people who work on farms to get that food on our table. Momtaz shows a keen interest in those less privileged and has actually sung a track in their respect. “Goaler Tok Doi” is ephemeral in the sense that we didn't really get it. We tried though and in the process sent one of our numbers to the nuthouse; art has always been connected to such tomfoolery.

And last but not the least we have one song that exemplifies the human nature of always holding on, even when things get tough. “Tippa Dhor!” is one such revolutionary song that speaks volumes about how we should never let go. Of what we shouldn't let go of is up for debate but we will leave that to more enlightened readers.

It is our opinion that Momtaz is misunderstood and that her singing is far beyond her time. What she inspires in us through her music (aforementioned chronic fear and incurable insomnia) is actually a harbinger of times to come. Notice how things in her songs always break, burn or in general are destroyed (Bokta Faita Jai, Joila Jai, Puira Jai, Bhainga Jai, etc). We believe she might just be the one chosen to let us know about what awaits us. The songs of destruction and the ultimate end of mankind. When the world is crashing down on us, we will inevitably be reminded of the fear and terror that she evoked in us and hopefully that will help us deal with Apocalypse without being reduced to gibbering fools. If we survived her music, the end of the world doesn't really seem so bad. Momtaz is truly a… visionary.

Disclaimer: To the ones who actually like Momtaz and have listened to her, dudes, respect. Really.
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