THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A decade past their formation, progressive Carnatic rock outfit Agam can now retrospect on their success formula. Reconstituting the performance of the Southern classical music into a new style might be what kept them floating over the multitude of folk-rock outfits. “Our practice of the music is different from the traditional kutcheri style and even the fusion style. While the latter blends two mediums, our way of maintaining the authenticity of Carnatic music and arranging over it found takers among young concert goers,” reminiscences vocalist Harish Sivaramakrishnan, who also recently performed a kutcheri in Thrippunithura.
After starting off with a niche millennial crowd and releasing their debut Inner Self Awakens, the septet now stands at a point where they’ve changed the rock and also the conventional musicscape with experienced traditional practitioners from the crowd joining the chorus of the track Mist of Capricorn (Manavyalakincharadate) in venues like the Hard Rock Cafe. We chat with the frontman as they perform in Kochi while in the process of bringing out their sophomore release.
Featuring nine tracks, A Dream to Remember has a two-fold structure, which includes rearranged classical numbers like Subrahmanyena Rakshitoham composed by Mutthuswamy Dikshitar taking shape as Onwards And Upwards and fresh compositions like Koothu Over Coffee. So, what’s novel about this production?
As Harish himself says, tagging their music as Carnatic progressive rock will serve only the uninitiated to gain a familiarisation, but there is much more to the new record. “Keeping the core anchored in Carnatic music and aligning the arrangements to progressive rock and metal, we’ve layered Kerala’s traditional instruments like idakka and chenda, and even choral singing to make the canvas wider,” informs Harish. Their five own compositions, however, are raga-oriented pieces with influences taken even from cinematic sounds rather than pure classical.
Offering something for every kind of music aficionado—from people like him caught up in the ‘nostalgia trap’ to millennials who appreciate heavier sounds—the tracks are released as singles every month on YouTube. Asserting the importance of their ardent fans, Harish informs the future compositions will depend on the reception and feedback of the album.
The act’s jam-packed action plan to reach out to their audience involves a touring schedule which includes Europe and South-East Asia in May-June, and probably even the US later this year. “We won’t be playing the album in its entirety and so the crowd can expect Malhar Jam and Boat Song alongside new tracks in Kochi,” says Harish on a closing note.
On March 10 at 6 pm.At Kriti Fest