Credit: Magnetic Fields Festival image taken by RC Photography
Image credit: Andrew Charles Edman
There’s a conceptual design to Sasha Perera’s sound. Here, the metaphysical form transforms into an architectural sonic unit: one that sustains emerging tonal patterns and unorthodox harmonies. You can often anticipate the non-sequitur in her sound collages. There are no linear narratives in her sonic movements. “Music is a reflection of our reality. It reflects what’s happening around us. It’s a conversation,” says the London-born, Berlin-based musician, producer and songwriter who goes by the moniker Perera Elsewhere.
Image credit: Royville Media
Fantasizing about a noise that could bludgeon an audience into submission, William Bennett from the band Whitehouse coined the term ‘power-electronics’ in the early 80s. The genre draws on static, screeching waves of feedback, analog synthesizers, warping sub-bass pulses and the high-frequency clamor of screamed vocals. Mostly harnessed through deep meditative improvisation, you could compare the process to spilling ink to see where it lands or furthermore setting the easel itself on fire.
Image: Still of BMR film by Petra Hermanova
A cracked version of Ableton changed the game for Gowri Jayakumar. She was studying guitar and bass at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in Chennai, India, back in 2012. She got the DAW so she could record herself — Jayakumar has been for over a decade, and remains, a popular singer-songwriter, often armed with an acoustic guitar and her voice. But then she found herself experimenting with the platform: “I was just making sounds,” she says. “Everything was muddy; it was shit.” A new path, however, had opened up.
Final Fieldlines performance on day 3 of Magnetic Fields Festival 2019 / Image credit – Avirat Sundra
In his exploration of Panchatattva (five elements) — fire, earth, sky, wind and water, and its concepts within a socio-cultural and folkloric context, Komal Kothari wondered how the interpretation of these elements (albeit not from a philosophical or metaphysical perspective) varied amongst folk musicians of Rajasthan. “Throughout my research, I focused on what people had to say about the elements and not what has been written about them in Sanskrit treatises,” he said in conversation to Rustom Barucha as they discussed the significance of water and drought in fables and folklore in ‘Rajasthan: An Oral History’. “On getting to know some singers of devotional music from the Bavari Tribe, I asked one of the musicians: ‘What is akash (the sky)? How do you explain it? And, he said: ‘Have you ever seen a ghara (earthen pot)? Move your hand inside it but don’t touch its periphery. That is akash: A space with no boundaries.”
Image: Still of film by Petra Hermanova
Siaminium – Image Courtesy of Rishova Hayat
The last few years in Bangladesh have seen rapid economic success; the cost of which seems to drown under the voices of the people and the many problems on the ground; however artists continue to take a stance and speak through the language of music.
Image: Karkhana Collective meet at Studio 6/6 Image Credit: Siam
I ended the first part of this article with a few essential questions that shift our attention from training to the practice of audio engineers and music producers, neither of which can be understood in isolation of each other. To answer them, I have to look at the spaces that audio engineers occupy and need, and the markets that they practise in. I also focus on the need for structured programs and initiatives that understand local challenges and gaps not just in the way we produce music, but also in the way our audiences are evolving their tastes and demands as we consume music globally and digitally.
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.”