The feni farm riot
Dischordian, Rs 150
I’m not a minimalist kind of guy. And I usually bemoan the sound that isn’t ‘filled up and filled out’ — one of the prime reasons my relationship with ‘fusion’ music has been a non-starter.
But the acoustic sound of Mumbai band Dischordian is a different kettle of fish.
The sparseness of the opening track in their debut album isn’t a ‘lack’. Quite the contrary. The clippety-cloppety pace and guitar notes of the opening track, ‘One of these days’, has a hangdog charm. But with a chord change in the middle — with singer Garreth D’Mello following the dip in the guitar with the words, “When the world fades and every cell in my body/Aches with longing for you” — something magical happens. The dhun turns into a feeling.
I must admit that the beach-folksy appeal of ‘How I wait’ sounds to my ear like the ‘slow reprise’ version of a more joyful (read: louder) track that isn’t there. But immediately after comes the skiffle’n’trumpet blast of ‘The old whore’. Agnnelo Picaardo’s trumpet is tenderly dirty and again the chord changes to bring us a surprise.
This acoustic paean to the lady is a foot-stomping tune that tells a lovely story through trumpet and guitar and voice. The chorus line of “Let her body decompose/ While the grass above her grows/ Makes sure everybody knows/ That she’s no more” is incredibly uplifting and joyful for what is essentially a dirge.
The opening riff of ‘Scourge of love’ may have a touch of Kasabian’s ‘Underdog’ in it, but the strummery is filled with different birds here. Garreth’s voice doesn’t really lie back prettily on the guitar-driven hammock. Unlike Agnnelo’s trumpet popping in and out like a happy muppet.
‘Same old conversation’ is a lazy track where Dischordian’s wish to be a mariachi band is evident as is the boys laying out their ‘anti-political’ political view — “Communists and anarchists and nihilists, who gives a shit?/ A man constructs a school of thought,/ Another man dismantles it” — sounds as bad as it reads.
Far more amenable to my ears is the positively groovy ‘Lover’. As Howard Pereira provides a hint of a harmony to Garreth’s vocal melody with Agnnelo switching his trumpet for percussion, I can smell the heat in the air and the lazy flies humming. I could be in Goa. I could be in Guatemala listening to a slacker-sounding early Beatles pop song.
‘Stone’ has Garreth’s voice floating like smoke. Guitar and voice walk about each other like rivals, with a Jeff Buckley falsetto breaking out here and there. I just wish the song was a little tighter, showing it’s delicate structure in a better profile. The title, though, for such a gravity-defying song is inspired.
The mariachi guys return in ‘Your right heel’ but this time taking the whole sound into a tequila (feni?)-soaked area. The best track of this album, with its menacing overtones also has the killer line: “And your right heel, my love —/ Your right heel, it’s a killing machine.” Garreth wrote this song after the Mangalore pub attacks in 2009.
So see, here the ‘politics’ works — because it works even if you didn’t know the background.
The furious blues of ‘Bucket of blood’ sounds delightfully sweaty. It’s inspired by Nick Cave’s version of ‘Stagger Lee’ and it bears the older song’s dark passion. I move quickly from the hippie guitar-plucking, percussion-slapping of ‘Save me’ through the filler ‘She lied to me’ to the diet slide guitar of ‘November’.
Finding too much slack in the tune (even the chord change doesn’t help this time), I end up in ‘Don’t wake me’. I check to see whether one of my speakers is working or not. Both are working fine.
Dischordian’s ‘stripped down’ sound in The Feni Farm Riot makes much of the music get the attention it deserves. But without taking recourse to a ‘wall of sound’, a few doors and windows of sound would make this band genuinely a great listen.