Image: Box III performs freestyle over beats by Space/Ghost – Ghurni: beats/verses, at Jatra Biroti / Image Credit: Siam
It’s a strange scenario, really. It is important to position this article in the current climate of arts, new media, and technology in the country if we are to critically explore how audio technology is learned and practiced in Dhaka. As we enter the new decade, Bangladesh the state, has probably never been more excited about ‘development’- economic, digital, and infrastructural – although there is much debate about how much of it really addresses the needs of the people and our ecologies. However, for the sake of this article, my interest lies in the growing practices and markets for audio technology and new media in the country, and where the largest gaps remain for artists, practitioners, and newcomers to this evolving entertainment-scape.
I Want To Be Able To Hold Sound, Throw It Around, Play With The Invisible & Make It Tangible: Arushi Jain
Image: Ose opening for Suzanne Ciani – image curtesy of the artist
“I compose in ragas. In the simplest form, a raga is a compositional philosophy with a certain set of rules within which one could improvise,” explains Arushi Jain , sound synthesist, singer, producer and academician who is also the founder of Ghunghru — a radio series and label based out of San Francisco, “Ragas are embedded in opinions — in what rhythm, at what tempo and with which words — on how to play them. It has its own scale, its own set of allowed and forbidden notes, of accidentals and note clusters. Each raga comes with its own emotional cocoon in which I sit and absorb the sentiment before starting to sing and create. I rely on this heavily to help control my own emotional spectrum. I truly believe I’ve discovered an art form that I will be working with for the rest of my life.”
Image credit: Still from film about The Black Box Project created by Petra Hermanova
The tenth Berlin based Border Movement residency saw Dhaka based producer, artist and curator Nafis aka The Black Box Project get selected to spend 2 months in Berlin.
Check out the video below for a glimpse into The Black Box Project’s experience. Filmed in Berlin and Dhaka and created by Petra Hermanova, this video embodies the passage of transition for the artist…
Image Credit – Cloat Gerold
“I think music creates safe spaces outside the ‘norm’ where people can be themselves and think freely. For music values individuality more than conformism. Art and music bring people from all walks of life together. In my opinion, art is leading everything farther than science. Science works on tomorrow while art shapes the day after thereby influencing scientists, politicians, designers, engineers and everyone building the world. However, art must be more open to anyone who needs to access it,” says Manuel Jesus, Berlin-based producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter who has just begun his residency in India as part of the Border Movement Residency program — a joint project conceptualized by the Goethe-Institut, Musicboard Berlin, Wild City and Ableton.
Image credit: Ali Bharmal
Is Shoumik Biswas growing old? He’s definitely growing up, if his new Disco Puppet album, ‘Aranyer Dinratri’, is anything to go by. Disco Puppet’s past works have been defined by unpredictability, perhaps even a kind of designed recklessness. In his own words, his songs have always been “disconnected” from each other, serving largely as a “collection of things put together”. Here, Biswas ditches his yo-yo tendencies in service of a unified sonic narrative, a kind of sameness tying all the songs off ‘Aranyer Dinratri’ together. …
Image credit: Nafis, no_name_face
“Here, in this land of equality, black and white are not buried in separate graveyards; nor do black and white pray in separate rooms and churches. There are no conflicting religions, no cacophony of conflicting scriptures. The priest and the padre, the mullah and the monk, drink water from the same glass here,” wrote Kazi Nazrul Islam — a Bengali poet, writer, musician and anti-colonial revolutionary in his poem ‘Samya’ (equality), “I sing the song of equality, of a country where fresh joy blossoms in every heart, and new life springs in every face. Friend, there is no king or subject here. No differences of rich and poor.”
Left – Pulpy Shilpy (image credit -Ron Bezbaruah) / right – no_name_face (image credit – Nafis Ahmed)
The Border Movement Residency project has worked with over 15 producers and musicians since its launch in 2015 – creating unique experiences tailored around the individual needs of the participating artists. The aim of the program has always been to create meaningful and relevant creative exchanges between musicians in South Asia and Germany.
Image Credit – Ériver Hijano
“Artists have the ability to design perception. They can find ways to convey tough subject matter in a tolerable manner. As artists, we can create spaces and platforms where people feel safe and enabled to engage in critical conversations without having the pressure of being assigned a certain societal, political or ideological expectation. And, we can be infinitely creative in how we enable this dialogue. It does not always have to be a literal dialogue using language. For, language itself can sometimes become a mode of exclusion” says Ramsha Shakeel — an interdisciplinary artist and experimental musician from Pakistan. In her explorations, one often discovers the romance of dimensions where individual archetypes in both sound and art coalesce to create aural interactions that define human emotion.
Image Credit – Siddharth Kumar
Aditi Veena and Lakshya Dhungana were travelling around Nepal a couple of years ago, setting up impromptu audio-video busking performances for strangers. One of those happened to be outside a small shop selling momos. Veena, aka singer-songwriter Ditty, was playing songs from her new album, ‘Poetry Ceylon’, using not much more than a mic, a guitar, and an amp. Dhungana, a filmmaker, would put up a bedsheet and use her projector to show movies about Sri Lanka that she had made. This was Streets For Us, a project the two started back in 2016 when they were both living in Sri Lanka. Dhungana originally wanted to make a film about catcalling, but further conversations between the two led to this instead. …
Image Credit – Alistan Cruz
Episode six, season four of Bojack Horseman – the anthropomorphic existential dread-fueled haunt-binge – is titled ‘Stupid Piece of Sh*t’. This is also what Bojack calls himself, as he gets out of bed, and again when he stress-eats cookies, and again, as he is driving around town to avoid his mum. This particular episode was brought up during a session of the mental wellness podcast Marbles Lost & Found hosted by music producer Zain Calcuttawala and Avanti Malhotra. The podcast started a couple of years ago, as a means of normalising the conversation around mental health, without homogenising the subject of emotional chaos. …