A lazy, overcast Sunday evening was perhaps the perfect time to delve into the feels and get lost in the moments of the latest offering by homegrown post/prog-rock outfit Aswekeepsearching aptly titled ‘ROOH’.
AWKS as a band is known to have been consistently raising the quality thresholds of the various components which revolve around being an independent artist in India. Be it by releasing their own clothing line Zia or these listening sessions, they have the ditched traditional ways of doing things and made it all about connecting with people who matter the most, the fans.
It began as a candid session with us 20-30 people sitting on the floor and vocalist Uddipan Sarmah sharing the band’s journey as a whole. Stories of how they formed, their history, their experiences, lineup changes, etc. It was a deep insight into how the minds of musicians work and also what hurdles they face.
For example, he told us about how the music industry didn’t care about them until they went on a full-fledged tour of Russia and how the same music content was viewed differently just because they were an Indian band to have landed a tour by themselves outside somewhere. ‘The importance of PR’ chuckles Uddipan.
After enough chit-chat, it was time to taste the fruits of the band’s handwork for the last 1.5 years. The first track “Chasing Lights” started to play and we were at once immersed in the many layers of bliss. Our minds couldn’t help but paint the picture of a drowning person struggling to find that ray of light to swim towards to safety and it’s equivalence to life, where keeping calm is the only way to get past the various hurdles it has to offer. This was indeed told to us by Uddipan who earlier had given us a brief insight into the idea behind each track and the experiences and thought processes which led to the conceptualization of what it is today.
Also, how the following track “Green and Blue” stood for happiness and beauty in the form of green pastures and blue skies they found almost everywhere during their Europe run last year – A luxury indeed us Bangalore dwellers do not get to experience so much. Another track which struck me was “Eneke Najaaba” which translates to “Do not go like this” in Assamese. The song embodies our eternal yearning to freeze the most beautiful moments in our lives similar to that of asking the frame of a setting sun to just pause for once and remain as beautiful forever.
I could go on to explain the meaning of each track as per the band’s definitions but I believe music should be left best to our own imaginations and perceptions. So I will leave it for you to figure out and find your own peace in it. Musically, this album is not completely but still quite different. The difference is mainly characterized by the increased use of vocals as compared to their previous works. So a person expecting mostly instrumentals or the AWKS signature post-rock sound as earlier is in for a surprise. I believe it would need them a couple of listens to completely drown themselves in the vast oceans of the tranquility this album invokes.
Though this review is based completely on a single listen, it would safe to say that Aswekeepsearching have created a beautiful and as someone quoted a ‘spiritual’ piece of art. ROOH is the perfect expression of how their sound has evolved over the years. In the band’s own words, this is not ‘Khwaab’, which reflected their mindset as in 2015, nor is this ‘Zia’ which reflected their mindset in 2017. ROOH is the archetype of their thoughts and emotions as it is today and they want to be absolutely honest about it. It is the realization of the idea of a constant evolution while preserving their roots. ROOH by Aswekeepsearching releases on 27th September. The wait is going to be unreal.
ROOH by Aswekeepsearching can be aptly termed as a ‘spiritual’ piece of art. Get ready to immerse yourselves in those walls of sound and layers of bliss. The album goes on to showcase the band’s evolution as musicians and more importantly human beings while paying homage to their roots.