There’s something about Indian folk music that makes it malleable to any form of experimentation. City-based band Sur couldn’t agree more. The members of this seven-piece outfit come from diverse musical backgrounds, but their collective love for regional music prompted them to explore the field further. And as they launch their debut eponymous album tonight at a gig in the city, they will perform tunes from Assam, Gujarat and Bengal, among other regions.
“Since India has a rich tradition of folk music, we wanted to get it out to people, but with a twist. So we’ve fused these tunes with modern rhythms and harmonies. This will make the music easier to listen to and more universally acceptable,” says founding member and bassist Suresh Mendoza. Apart from him, the band comprises Arunima Bhattacharya (vocals), Glenn Fernandes (guitar), Crehyl Pereira (keyboard), Agnelo Picardo (drums), Shashank Acharya (flute) and Varun Sunil (percussions).
The album, which consists of six songs, features the rearranged versions of popular folk tunes such as ‘Assi kali’ (a Ghoomar number from Rajasthan), ‘Mari mahisagar’ (Garba tune sung in honour of Lord Mahisagar), ‘Mor bhabhonarey’ (a Rabindra Sangeet that romanticises the monsoon), among others. There’s also a Bihu tune from Assam, a Persian ‘tarana’ and a bandish that pays tribute to Lord Shiva.
Putting together a multilingual project could be challenging. Ask Mendoza about it and he says, “I own a recording studio (Glam Slam Recording Studios) and do advertisements in different languages for radio and TV. I had access to language supervisors and singers who helped us with the diction, accents and pronunciations.” He adds, “Arunima already knew a lot of folk tunes, so we had to spend time selecting the right ones and rearranging them.”
Besides performing the tracks from the album, Sur will also present some original tunes at their gig tonight. “With the help of Crescendo Music, we plan to tour extensively and promote the album across the country,” says Mendoza.