Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I am not a musician, as many of you know. Neither have I ever pretended to be a walking-talking musical encyclopedia. And I am certainly not a musical messiah out to educate the masses.
But I do think I know a little about music. And I would like to think that I have an ear for good music, be it of any genre. And it delights me to see music flourishing in our city of Joy, especially in the genre of rock.

The music scene for rock bands has never been better in Kolkata. Apart from the good 'ol bangla bands there are many some up-and-coming rock bands in our city doing excellent music - Crystal Grass, The Hobos, Jackrabbits etc. etc. etc. And Cassini's Division. How could I forget them??? :)

Cassini's Division - a group of hard-working musicians, who believe in hard-work and struggling to keep their dreams alive in a music industry which don't know balls about music.

Something seems to draw me towards CASSINI's DIVISION - its hard to define why. I 1st heard this band last year at their old 9:30 PM Sunday slot at SOMEPLACE ELSE (@ the Park Hotel). I had no idea who they were and I didnt even know their band name - in fact I initially thought they were called CASSANDRA's DIVISION. :))

But the fact is, I still liked their sound enough to want to come again to see them play. And again. And again.
I also started spreading the good word around about them on the internet and in my office area (Sector-V, Salt Lake)... I didnt know these guys - they werent my old school-mates or my para'r thek'er group or married to my 3rd cousin from Chandan-nagar. And yet, I felt good when I listened to their music. I felt a part of myself feeling complete in heart and soul when I untied my pony-tail and head-banged like a maniac, as if no one was watching me. I felt good all around.
And doing a little PR for them was kinda my way of saying "Thank You for the music".

For the uninitiated - Cassini's Division are a 4-member band comprising of:
Guitarist and lead-screecher supreme and the growling grunterismo - RAHUL GUHA ROY aka Yoda
Lead Axeman 'abt to explode - SUKANTI ROY aka Quietus
Bass Man - JOHN BOSE aka Johnny B. Goode
Drum Monster - RITOBAN DAS aka Ludo

These 4 guys played awesome original alternative music and the odd decent cover as well. I liked their sound - maybe becoz it was slightly heavier than the other bands that played @ Someplace Else... I guess most of you know, I prefer heavy metal to the Doors or Pink Floyd (although I do love these 2 bands)
A year back their sound was truly R.E.M'esque or CRASH TEST DUMMIES like - not really heavy or anything. But they had a tight sound. And the covers they played also reflected the kinda music they were influenced by in those days - it was a treat to watch them play melodic alternative songs like STAIND's "Outside", RADIOHEAD's "Creep", R.E.M.s "Imitations Of Life", THE CALLING's "Wherever You May Go".

They would occasionally get heckled by the stupid, rigid-minded SPE crowd wanting their regular dose of classic rock - and I guess reluctantly Cassini's had to perform their alternative versions of various classic rock songs - great fun, but was it really what they wanted to play?? I dont honestly know, since I have never asked them 'till date. At least these few songs kept the crowd quiet.
And slowly but surely the SPE audience started appreciating the quality of their originals.

Originals. Appreciating originals is always gonna be the problem of the Kolkata live rock audience - you listen to COMFORTABLY NUMB whole day on your mp3 player and yet, you still want the live band to play that song for you when you come to Someplace Else to when you atend some other rock gig - it may be fun for you, but I have realised through the years that playing covers is the biggest way to kill the artistic individuality of a band. We criticize Bappi Lahiri and our other Bollywood music stars when they lift or copy a western tune. We get scandalised that they dont manage to play original stuff... and yet we come to SPE, mecca for rock music in sunny Kolkata - and we get exasperated when a band wont play covers of their favourite bands!!!
What kinda fucking hypocritical attitude is that???

Thank God I have managed to come out of this mind-block about Kolkata bands not being good enough to do their own music. When I met the manager of Someplace Else, Gautam Singh last year at the Joe Satriani concert, he 1st told me about Cassini's Division... about this new band which played alternative and grunge and had a heavy sound... and lordy lord - they played originals too!!
And like the typical rock-music loving Kolkatan, I too was bloody sceptical. Bands had done their originals in bangla very successfully - but in English?? Naa, I didnt think Cassini's would be able to pull it off, especially at a place like Someplace Else, where classic rock ruled supreme.

Doubting Thomas that I am - I am glad that I was so wrong and I gladly eat my words.
Because not only have they succeeded in pulling off the impossible in our city, they have also managed to start a revolution - so nowadays people actually expect a band on stage to play originals and not just the typical crummy cover.

If any of you reading this blog have ever heard Cassini's a year back (circa 2005) - and have heard them a year later (post March-April 2006) you will realise how far a band can go just on the basis of well-composed songs and sheer hard-work. No covers, no gimmicks, nothing - just good quality originals and a conviction to succeed in a city that is 2 steps behind the music scene in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune.
People in Kolkata call them loud and noisy and heavy. And I am sure these people get ear-aches when they hear Rahul screeching in "URBAN PHENOMENON"... me? I think the heavier they get the better, its the biggest high for me.
But yes, truth be told, they were never this heavy last year. I guess exposure to the music scene in and around the rest of the country has opened their eyes to the fact that success in Kolkata is not what its about. And the hard truth is that even the mellower rock bands in the rest of country were at one point even heavier than the old Cassini's avatar...

And so as the months have progressed Cassini's has steadily but surely increased the "heavy" element in their music. But its not that just making their originals more heavier is all that they've done. Their songs have also gone through a helluva lotta fine-tuning as well. They sound more tighter, they sound musically richer and last but not the least - they have added the element of "hey we want you, the audience to sing along with us" as well. And looking at the crowd reaction @ their weekly Sunday slot @ SOMEPLACE ELSE, you do actually see a helluva lot more crowd involvement - people you have never seen at their shows are also singing along to the chorus. And like most bands - the more the crowd gets involved, the better the band seem to perform... its like they are feeding off the positive energy being emitted from the audience.

For a guy who has been following their music so intensely for the last year, these changes in their music warms the cockles of my heart no end. When I close my eyes, I can't even make out that this band isnt from grunge land Seattle or from some other city in the USA. Hell, this band is from good 'ol Kolkata, City Of Joy - and they make it look and sound so easy! :)

I dont know how the music industry in India works. And barring the odd musician, I dont know too many people belonging to this industry. I'm just a common joe who likes listening to good music and I will be listening to music longer than most of these up-and-coming bands survive in this dog-eat-dog industry. Tough luck to them, but if they suck I aint gonna buy their music.

But not so with Cassini's Division - and I say that from the bottom of my heart.
And hey, these guys havent paid me to say all these nice things about them. And Like I said - i aint related to their kakas or kakis or mamas or mamis. I just like this band. Period.

SO all I am gonna say to Cassini's is thank you for accepting me into your fold, thank you for tolerating my crazy head-banging antics (when I had my pony-tail back then), and thank you for appreciating any kinda criticism I have dumped upon you in your one year @ Someplace Else.
You've completed a year at Kolkata's mecca of rock. And you've passed the test. And fuck any CACTUS member who thinks otherwise. Stick to your ideologies and beliefs... and next year same time, same place, I'll be writing another post about Cassini's Division - Year II.

God bless. :))


babelfish said...

I've been listening to their music for a little less than a year now. I heard Rahulda singing Knockin' on Heaven's Door eight months back and then I heard him singing Urban Phenomena after aeons last week and their sound has evolved tremndously!

Nice post :)

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anna-rchy said...

And fuck any CACTUS member who thinks otherwise - LOL

cactus hates cassinni eh ?

chandan_13in said...

Story of my life...