By Shaswata Kundu Chaudhuri
The edgy and quirky Sunset Lounge of The Lytton Hotel acted as the setting for the first concert of the last radio show on earth. It was the album launch concert of Enolaton, part of Jamsteady X In The Mid sessions. The date was 31st January, 2018.
The stage was packed. The drums was in the corner, flanked by a two amplifiers stereo setup, with the synthesizers on the opposite end facing the drums, while three guitars waited silently in their respective spots. The space behind was covered by an enormous screen which depicted hallucinatory and shadowy images.
People were milling around, sipping drinks and chatting with friends, while their eyes flitted to the stage then and again. The air was laden with a palpable curiosity. The band walked onstage and asked to observe a minute of silence for the musicians who passed away recently.
The first song was preceded by a radio broadcast coming out of the speakers:
Hello and welcome to the Final Hour! It’s T minus 60 minutes at Calcutta and you are tuned into 99.9 FM with RJs MNB108 and THX1138. The temperature outside is a comfortable -2 degrees with heavy acidic rainfall and atmospheric pollution seems stable at 300. So, if there’s an outside chance of you actually going outside, we’d advise you to not forget your trusted hazmat suit….. let’s hear our first song from the Final Final Hour. This is a song from 2017, a time where people could choose their silences, and not worry about the world going silent.
A dark note rang out, which was joined by other throbbing notes, announcing the beginning of the end. The voice caught up to the music, evoking images of forgotten nostalgia, despair, loneliness and an obliviating silence. Then, the drums and bass came out of hiding to present a funky, pacey groove, fuelling the song into a delightful frenzy.
Enolaton is a five piece band consisting of Abhishu Rakshit on vocals, Sandipan Parial on drums, Nabarun Bose on keyboards, Kaustav Biswas on bass and Bodhisattwa Ghosh on guitars. Their self titled debut EP, which is also Bodhisattwa’s first venture as a producer, contains 5 Bengali songs. The physical format of the EP is a booklet designed by Aanton Mukherjee, priced at INR 100, containing a QR code as well as lyrics of the songs. The album depicts the story of the decay of humans from a personal and societal perspective. Portraying the world as it is today in all its depraved glory, the album explores themes such as communication breakdown, depression, delusion and finally realization and acceptance, which nourishes the desire to escape to a better place.
Their sound is the sound of today. With electronic elements, mind boggling effects, captivating loops and assorted eerily outlandish noises and sounds, their music reeks of an overwhelming stench of the new age! Their repertoire, while being completely original, has both English as well as Bengali songs. While this helps reaching a wider crowd, it also embodies the language of an urbanite in Kolkata.
While the band’s apocalyptic broadcast seeped into the senses of the audience, the visuals on the screen, orchestrated by Somdeb Sengupta, depicted images ranging from riots and chaos through the lens of a news-cameraman; a single flickering candle; a colourful Utopian Western Civilization where beautiful people lounged on picture-perfect beaches to people’s faces warping into TV images, malfunctioning technological devices and a camera spying on the activities in a room (a metaphor for Big Brother).
Coming back to the music, it had overtones of darkness, terror and horror, with traces of a nauseating fervour for nihilism. This dreadful soundtrack was built on a haunting rhythm section fronted by archaic, straight hitting drum lines, booming around in loops, while the bass was a dirty funk. Effects ran around like circular data crunching algorithms around the riffs, which the guitar channeled into the central nerve of the musical system, creating ominous, vast and enveloping soundscapes, while the vocals belted out the words with a ghoulish undercurrent.
The crowd’s obvious delight was proved by the fact that almost everyone listened to them attentively, with minimal talking in between the songs when the radio broadcasts were playing, and very few people left during the duration of their set.
Beyond having a new sound and delving into unexplored themes, their concept of using a radio show as emcee for a concert, is refreshing, if not inspiring. “We were going to present a set of originals in two different languages, Bangla and English. So, we felt that the audience would need some context to really get involved, removing biases of language and sound. For that purpose, we needed to tell a story. Also, our sound doesn’t fit the usual emcee style of introduction and interaction. Hence, we decided on the radio show format,” said Abhishu.
“The anchor was the song Neon Niyom, which is the final track from our debut EP. The song talks about the last city on earth which flies away in search of a new planet because Earth is dead. During its flight, all human beings are put to sleep till a destination is found. Thus we had our story and context. A radio show chronicling a ‘history’ of mankind before the city departs for space. It’s set a 100 years from now in the year 2117, and names are a mixture of alphabets and numbers. Emotion is outlawed but one of the RJs seems to be displaying copious amounts of it as he takes his listeners through songs which talk about society, human behaviour, alienation, the sentience of machines and an ode to hope.”
In a way, the last message of the radio broadcast, before the final three songs, was hopeful and a symbol of art’s importance in our lives :
….. the station will continue to broadcast songs. A testament to times when we actually thought. When we created beauty. Because without art, without culture, without music, without love, there’s very little to define humanity. See you at the end of all the darkness.
Photos by Ashok Chowdhury
Buy the digital album here.
For detailed information pertaining to the ideologies behind Enolaton’s music, click here.
Check out the video of “Stobdhota”: