Dhyan Yathra took me on a much-looked-forward-to journey. Now if only half of Colombo didn’t turn up merely to socialise and be seen. But more about that later.
It started off with Karunaratne Kiriwattuduwe on santoor accompanied by the tabla. His performance made me wish, not for the first time, that I’d pay more attention when my father listens to Indian classical music. I have listened to Rahul Sharma quite a few times but last night I realized that I had listened on a very superficial level.
This performance couldn’t be enjoyed or even heard for that matter because the audience was not prepared for a long classical piece and therefore the discipline one sees at a classical concert was missing. It was very noisy and had it not been World Temperance Day, it may have been noisier. So everyone missed out on what could have been a very enjoyable performance, one that would have really taken us on a dhyan yathra. I hope we get to see him perform again, in an environment more conducive to classical music.
Next up was Mistake, who really need to come up with a new band name now that they have proven that there is nothing mistaken about them. I was not the only one impressed by their music. They started out a bit stiff, understandably due to nerves but started relaxing towards the middle of their performance. There seemed to be technical difficulties such as with sound balance but none of that stopped them from giving us an idea as to the kind of music they want to make.
There were loose ends and disjointed passages but nothing that couldn’t be rectified with experience since the musicians all showed potential. For a new band, they pulled off the usually difficult task of holding the audience’s attention and I look forward to their future performances with hopefully a tighter sound.
Harsha Makalande along with Alston Joachim, Shiraz Noor Amith, Ravibandhu Vidyapathi and Jithendra Vidyapathi played some of the best live music I’ve heard all year. It still didn’t surpass the last time I saw the same ensemble (minus Jithendra and plus Lakshman Joseph De Saram and Pradeep Ratnayake) but that again may have been due to the noise of the audience and the fact that there was no intimacy between the listeners and the performance.
It was evident that there was a lot of brilliant improvisation going on and the answering passages between Vidyapathy father and son on percussion only added to this musical treat. My only grouse is that there was no piano, which could have enhanced the quality of Makalande’s passages.
Lastly it was Thriloka (excuse me while I shift gears from fan girl to objective critic *cough*) and they just keep lifting the bar for all the other bands around. They started out with Unlucky Number and though I can’t point out the exact how and why, it sounded different from the last time I heard it. It was a good introduction to people who were listening to them for the very first time and it was almost amusing to see people who were as astounded as I was when I heard them for the first time.
The Thriloka version of Thunderblast from Selvaganesh‘s Beat it if you can was one of the best performances during that entire night. There was some fancy playing by the Pabalu, Harshan and Sarani but it was disappointing to note that even that couldn’t stop some people from jabbering nineteen to the dozen (yes I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a broken record about this issue).
I was very interested in listening to their interpretation of Anna Balan Sanda from the moment I saw it listed in the evening’s programme and I was not disappointed. It proved the point I made in an earlier review about how Thriloka takes the essence of a piece of music and then fuses it to another style rather than simply repeating a well known tune with different instruments. While Sarani Perera on guitar gave a beautiful introduction to the song and then played the chorus itself, what stood out for me were the keyboard passages by Eshantha. For those who haven’t heard the original version, it being sung by Edward Jayakody can be found here.
The last track for the night was Raga De Latino and they keep adding something to this track everytime they play it. There was the answering passages between Sarani and Pabalu on guitar and percussion and that little bit of baila that disappeared as quickly as it appeared. And I love how the entire band seems to be connected by an invisible cord that tugs exactly at the same time.
While Thriloka is undoubtedly excellent at what they do, there were some things lacking. One thing I’ve been noticing (and so had others as I later found out) is that while guitar, keyboard, drums and percussion each has at least one solo to play during a set, the bass seems to be stagnating. All the musicians except for the bass player Uvindu have carved a niche for themselves and display individuality within Thriloka. While the bass parts can be heard more clearly than before, there is still room in their music for more bass. And as Alston Joachim proved last night, there is more to a bass player than standing in a corner, overshadowed by the other musicians.
The ambience was excellent at Barefoot for the kind of music played that evening but it was ruined by some parts of the audience who didn’t respect the musicians enough to keep quiet even if they weren’t interested in the music that was being played. However kudos to Rockapalooza Productions and Fusion Dhyan Arts Circle for putting the show together and for being willing to give exposure to young bands to play along with some of the best in the field.
All in all, it was an evening well spent with some good music and some even better music.