Folk Roots

Music Issue 56 Jul, 2010

Kutumba is a band that comprises six very talented young musicians who opted for folk musical instruments, while their contemporaries were strapping electric guitars. “Folk Roots”, an instrumental album, opens with a tune from the popular TV serial “Pandra Gatey”, but the band improvises with various rhythms taken from Newar, Bhojpuri and Tamang cultures. The album starts with simplicity. There is nothing complicated about the music, but that’s the way folk music has always been. The second melody is almost nine minutes long and is a popular tune titled “Asaarai Mahinama”. Perhaps it has never been played in such a somber mood. An unusual choice for Kutumba is the theme song from a ’60s hit movie “Maiti Ghar”. There’s not much improvisation here as the tune is as I remember it from my childhood.

The six members play an array of musical instruments which include: bansuri, murali and narasimha (wind instruments), maadal, dhime, tyamko, dholaki, khin, damaha, damphu, jhyamta, tinchu, ghungroo (percussions). They also use added effects of a murchunga (Jewish harp), singing bowls, wood clap and wind.   “Ghar Timro” is taken from the Himalayan region and what follows is another popular folk tune “Raato Pachyauri” played on the sarangi and flute accompanied by khin and maadal. Kutumba must be applauded for reviving the use of instruments from the “Panche Baaja” ensemble like the narsimha, tyamko, dholaki, damaha, etc. once heard at every wedding and most festivals, but fading away rapidly (replaced by brass bands). “Jhamke Phuli” is yet another song played with ‘Panche Baaja’ instruments and Kutumba plays it with a flair quite their own. A typical Tamang folk song (a Tamang selo) follows. But the last track is easily their best. Is it because they are playing a Newari melody? The band belongs to the Newar community and has a vast following. This tune is dominated by a great flute solo; beautifully controlled which gives way to a sarangi solo, equally haunting. In this album Kutumba has experimented less, improvised little on the melodies, but concentrated on their technique, which can only push their standards higher.

CD courtesy: East Meets West Music Box, Thamel.
Phone: 4256411