Blackstratblues : The Last Analog Generation.

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I get less time to practice!“, says guitar virtuoso Warren Mendonsa on his recent fatherhood. However his 10-year old brainchild, Blackstratblues, just added another iconic album to their stellar discography called ‘The Last Analog Generation‘.

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India’s finest rock bands have returned two years post their previous release ‘The Universe Has A Strange Sense of Humour‘. The album has come at a perfect time for the multitudes of fans wanting new material. Warren says, “I think by the time we recorded this one, the four of us were very comfortable playing together as a unit and as a result it was recorded very organically.” The 8-track album is definitely a stimulating release from the act. It has a very charming 80’s flair to the sound and is seasoned with the pristine musicianship of  Jai Row Kavi on the drums, Adi Mistry on the bass and Beven Fonseca on the keys. Charging through it all is Warren’s signature guitar playing which evokes a different emotion with every song. The album is a very distinct feather in Blackstratblues’ revered cap and it was a conscious effort. Warren says, “There’s no point repeating what we’ve done before.

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The title ‘The Last Analog Generation’ does encapsulate the sound of the entire album. It does numb down the synthetic electronic sounds that floods today’s mainstream music. The album isn’t necessarily drunk in nostalgia, for it does dwell in current themes. The album name came about when Warren and his wife, Uttara, were blessed with their first child. It struck them how different it would be growing up now with the influx of modern technology, social media, music consumption and more. It wouldn’t be anything like growing up in the 80’s. “The difference would be way more than the one between our parents generation and ours“, says Warren. Thus, ‘The Last Analog Generation’.

 

Most of Blackstratblues’ songs are these illustrious rock epics over 5-6 minutes long. Warren mentions how most of the songs are divided into two sections and are written together. They usually start off as guitar loops, home demos or have a pre-existing live version before they enter the studio. The track ‘Mediatrician’ revolves around how the modern mainstream media treats adults as children who are incapable of formulating their own opinions. Warren says, “These days we get mainly opinions and entertainment disguised as news, all designed to get maximum eyeballs and advertising.” It starts out with a sample of his daughter crying with a news debate going on in the background. Warren adds, “She does recognise her voice at the start of Mediatrician and is all smiles whenever that plays.

After some time playing blues, Nia tries her hand at some shred. I think she may prefer the former…

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The track ‘Love Song To The Truth’ features singer/songwriter Tejas Menon. It’s a dreamy track with the words and the melody from Warren championed by Tejas’s soothing vocals. Warren says, “What you hear on the album is his first take, minutes after he first heard the track. It was a pleasure to work with him, and he added heaps of soul to that track.” The track also has an audio snippet from a Joni Mitchell interview that Warren really resonated with. Warren says, “The best music is open to interpretation, and causes the listener to introspect or find a personal connection with the music that could be very different from what the songwriter may have originally imagined.

Having been the guitar player for the legendary rock band, Zero, and with Blackstrablues leaving it’s mark for more than a decade, it’s safe to say Warren has seen it all. “There was a quantum leap in the 2000s with audience acceptance of original music, and it has only grown since then”, says Warren. He fancies acts like Nicholson, Parekh & Singh, Kush Upadhyay and obviously Tejas, from the current indie scene. But with electronic music in the forefront, it does seem that the true craftsmanship of musicians is fading away and rock might not be the hip thing to follow. But Warren believes otherwise, he says, “I don’t really think the popularity of one genre affects another. Both can coexist and influence each other. Rock has been around for quite a few decades and keeps changing with the times, and I’m not fearful for its survival.

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Between promoting the album via shows across India and being a father, Warren is pretty busy and content at the same time. There’s nothing exceptionally new on the horizon. With the legacy that he has, he can take all the breaks he wants. Who knows, maybe we might get another iconic video like for the track ‘Renaissance Mission’ on the previous album? For now, simply forget your blues with their latest gem, ‘The Last Analog Generation’.

 

 

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Sid Vashi : The big theme of ‘Azuma Kazuma’ is fear.

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“The big theme is fear. We are so uncertain about what we want to do next. So it’s really about coming to terms with your fear and saying, fuck it, let’s do this shit”, Sid Vashi on his starry debut album ‘Azuma Kazuma‘.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit, Sid had a varied spectrum of influences. His music is an eclectic mix of different genres structured by elaborate instrumentation and accompanied by sparing appearances by his distinct saxophone playing. Formally trained in jazz music, Sid insists everyone should dwell a little in music theory for it fosters creativity. He says, “It’s new ways to categorize your expression.”

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A fan of music first, Sid tries to listen to a different album every day. Currently rocking out to some Beach Boys, African artist Francis Bebey and the new Brand New album – ‘Science Fiction’. Sid doesn’t shy away from his Bollywood influences and is nostalgic of the over the top, synth driven music of the Burman era. He says, “I never saw it as the establishment music”. Given how visual his music can be, it’s no surprise that he cites the likes of Mani Ratnam, Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap as some of his favorite Indian film directors.

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After returning to India couple of years ago, he channeled his emotions of being an outsider in his home country into a heavily Bollywood sampled EP called ‘Motherland Tourism’. But later having felt that it didn’t represent him completely, he decided to take it down. He made a rather elaborate return with his extravagant album ‘Azuma Kazuma’.

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The story of ‘Azuma Kazuma’ revolves around a prospector in a large space mining conglomerate who undergoes a near death experience and decides to take control of his life. The story mirrors the time when Sid was bed-ridden for six weeks and decided to make this album. The album is two-part out of a trilogy, which shall be completed in Sid’s next album. Sid decided to work with visual artist Johnny Ghanta for this visuals to serve as an aesthetic guideline to the entire experience. “He’s one of the most inspiring people. He’s so creative he’s so driven and so interesting to be around”, Sid on his collaborator.

Where the album shines is the details in the overall experience. There are minute sonic detail which make the album all the more interesting. “I think of mixes like sonic architectures, you are creating an environment”, says Sid on his choice of sounds. Another standout factor would be the use of samples like the iconic vocals from Nicholson’s ‘For What‘ on the track ‘Paper Bones’. Indie artists rarely do covers or remixes of other acts, but this kind of sampling format has been dominant in hip-hop for the longest time. “That’s how you build a culture by being referential within it” , says Sid.

Given how geeky the Azuma Kazuma story is, it comes as no surprise that Sid happens to have a degree in neuroscience and philosophy. He makes no distinction between his artistic and academic side and embraces both wholly. He says, “I think all explorations, academic or artistic, are ultimately trying to determine what is true.”

Sid also is a part of Salvage Audio Collective which is group of producers  who provide audio solutions for several commercial and indie projects. Sid says it really helps him try different things. He continues, “I see other projects as an opportunity to be a sonic chameleon.”

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It’s been three odd months since Azuma Kazuma has released, but Sid doesn’t feel the pressure to put anything out. Besides the conclusion to his debut album, a possible reinterpretation of ‘Motherland Tourism’, Sid plans to drop couple of remixes and B-sides of Azuma Kazuma. With the festival season  around the corner and couple of DJ sets along the way, it’s pretty safe to say that this space boy is ready to go to infinity & beyond!

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Thank you for reading! If you want to talk about a band you love, or a band you think everyone should know about, please leave a comment or send in your mails to indiebullhorn@gmail.com. You can also mail us if you have any articles you’d like to send. To see more cool stuff like interviews, album reviews, release updates and lots more, stay tuned. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.