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Recorded and mixed in Los Angeles, the album has slick production values

















Review

A creed proud of its roots

The self-titled album of Indus Creed is a high water mark in the short history of Indian rock, and provides Indian bands with the inspiration to discover their own sound


Indus Creed
Indus Creed
BMG Crescendo

Trapped
Sleep
New Day
Thrown It All Away
Best Friend
Fly
Cry
Celibate
Play
Book of Dreams
Pretty Child (bonus rack from 'The Second Coming')

Uday Benegal: Vocals, Percussion
Jayesh Gandhi: Guitars
Mark Selwyn: Bass
Mahesh Tinaiker: Guitars, e-bow
Zubin Balaporia: Keyboards, backing vocals
Bobby Duggal: Drums

It is often difficult to truthfully name someone a 'pioneer' without sounding like the label was thrown in for lack of a better compliment. But if the Indian rock 'scene' was pioneered by anyone, that distinction would have to go to Indus Creed. The third release of the band Rock Machine and the first in their new avatar of Indus Creed is groundbreaking for many reasons. Recorded and mixed in Los Angeles, it boasts of some slick production. It also sees the band departing from their dated '80s pop-rock style towards more wholesome modern rock territory that fuses Indian instruments and vibes whose utility goes way beyond the cosmetic.

Evidence of their refined use of Indian percussion can be found in the opening track Trapped, which begins with a tabla groove overlaid with acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies and seamlessly progresses into some tightly constructed hard rock riffing. The tabla is also used as an ideal percussive foil for the drums on Book of dreams, with the instruments complimenting each other fully without treading on each other's toes. The sarangi is also used to great effect on the bridge of Thrown it all away as the song mellows down after its intense guitar build-up.

Uday Benegal's vocals have considerably improved since his earlier work. He does not try too hard, finding a comfortable range in which his often-overlooked vocals really shine. The poignancy and intensity of Celibate, a dark story of sexual abuse and retribution, is heightened by Benegal's brilliant vocal performance. However, his vocals sound annoyingly like Def Leppard's Joe Elliot on play. Only Zubin Balaporia's classy piano solo rectifies the song, probably the weakest on the album. Fly features Balaporia's beautifully orchestrated keyboard work while his Hammond organ lends a classic rock feel to the tongue-in-cheek Best friend.

The drums could do with more punch in the song, as they sound a little bald in the mix. Maybe that's how they do things in LA... who knows? Jayesh Gandhi and Mahesh Tinaikar comprise a formidable rhythm-lead guitar vanguard. They have definitely grown up from shredders of the '80s hair metal scene into textural players who can still execute a sweep arpeggio or three without any problem while pulling off some delicate acoustic picking as heard on Fly and amid the haunting harmonies of Cry. Tinaikar's solo on Sleep is restrained and melodic, while on Celibate, he lets things go and kicks up some speed solo havoc.

Sleep begins with some very precise guitar harmonics and features Mark Selwyn's sliding bass lines that are often drowned out in an otherwise balanced mix. Selwyn does get some appropriate levels on Pretty child, their best known cut from The Second Coming that received an MTV Viewer's Choice Award in 1993.

Indus Creed deals with varied themes on this album, ranging from philosophical musings about time, immortality, love and loneliness to bawdy punning. Indus Creed are mature lyricists and gifted songwriters who have created a distinct mood of 'Indianness' on the album, without abandoning their hard rock roots. The vibes are Indian regardless of whether Indian instruments are being used. This is probably their greatest asset and explains their unprecedented success in the international arena. Their 'fusion' does not sound like 'adulteration', but like a natural extension of their sound, providing the international rock fan with something Indian but not desi. Indus Creed remains a high water mark in the short history of Indian rock, and provides bands with the inspiration to discover their own sound by merging their culture and their musical influences without sounding pretentious.

Anand Varghese


Published on 12 May 2003




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