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Kazi Mohammad, leader of the band, with an admirer Feature

Bangla flavour from Chicago

A Bangla band offers its entire album free on the Net. If you buy their CD, they give away most of the money to a friend fighting cancer

The Experiment describes itself as the first alternative rock band from South Asia to offer its entire album free in cyberspace. Hitherto, only snatches of songs were available as samples for browsers.

Novochari, which translates as astronaut, comprises 13 Bengali songs and two instrumental numbers. The band also runs two 24-hour online radio stations that can be accessed through its websites: http://mp3.com/theexperiment, http://theexperiment.iuma.com and http://theexperiment.virtualave.net

Kazi Mohammad Imadul Haque (truncated for friends to a more manageable Pintu), who has composed the tunes, works for a software company. The other members are Janella, who works in a school, Urfi, who earns a living in an advertising firm, Ria, an employee with an international trading company, and Asha, a student. Kazi, also the lead singer, has studied Indian classical music for 15 years. The others honed their talent along the way, especially in college.

So why is someone trained in classical music dabbling in rock? It appeals to GenerationNext, according to Kazi. The band, he adds, plans to compose rock numbers inspired by Indian classical music. They've already made a start. "Bangalar mati in Novochari is a good example it features sitar and rock guitar sounds." While the album is available free on the Net, browsers can also buy its CD for 7.99 dollars, of which 6 dollars go into a fund to help out a friend who is being treated for cancer.

Despite the influence of Indian classical music, the band hasn't visited India. Other influences are wide and varied -- blues, jazz, hard rock, trance, techno, rap and pop. Confesses Kazi: "It is very hard not to be influenced by some of the great artistes of our time. Led Zeppelin and Ravi Shankar top our list."

The Experiment is working on its second album with a different set of musicians. This one goes deeper into Asian-Indian music and American alternative music. Like the first, this album is also downloadable for free. The band has resolved to bring out an album at least once a year. Kazi can be contacted on e-mail; he welcomes suggestions and opinions.

Sugandhi Ravindranathan

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