In September 2013, Bombay Bassment's drummer Levin Mendes and
ex-Aftertaste vocalist Keegan Pereira teamed up to work on a couple of tracks.
They ended up forming Laxmi Bomb along with bassist Ruell Barretto and
keyboardist Joaquim Fernandes. The band released its first EP,Hॐ, in March
this year. That five-song collection — a tribute of sorts to the city of Mumbai
— had nods to modern electronic music, disco and '90s Bollywood pop
(mercifully, it was sample-free). Now, with the release of their second EPMah'Bharat, Laxmi Bomb is
gently expanding its horizons.
The band started live-testing the tracks that comprise this EP
around five months ago. Their modus operandi, according to Mendes, is to work
out a track's kinks during their performances and only then record it.
"The way we work is, we compose a track, play it live so we can get an
idea of how it's perceived," he said. "After about three or four
months, when we're completely set with the track, we go to the studio and cut
Mah'Bharat's opening track, Love Day Loot, opens with a
plinky synth figure that'll warm the hearts of anyone who lovesGupt-era Viju Shah. Apart from
this, however, the Bollywood influence is more muted on this EP as compared to
the first. Instead, the group manages to show off an impressive amount of stylistic
variation while remaining within the ambit of their gently rocking electro pop
sound. Keralight alternates between a sarangi and wash of keyboards and an
ominous section that recalls the group's first single Major Major. Andaman Eve,
a video of which has recently been released, has close harmonies and a sepia
tone somewhat reminiscent of Beirut's Scenic World.
As can be inferred from the song titles, the EP is informed by
the band's visits to various parts of the country: Kerala, Shillong, the Andamans.
"We started travelling to different places for gigs and personal
vacations, and that ended up inspiring some of these tracks," Mendes said.
Another difference between the two EPs is that while Hॐwas
primarily conceived by Keegan and Mendes — the two other members arrived
when the album was "70-80% sorted", Mendes said —Mah'Bharathas contributions from all four
members. Most tracks come together with Pereira taking responsibility for the
words and Mendes working out a basic melody before throwing it over to the
band. "Because we're a four-piece act, I restrict myself from completing
tracks," Mendes said.
You can hear the fruits of this approach inMah'Bharat. The songs sound
more like there's a band playing, rather than something electronically pieced
together. Barretto's bass now features more prominently; it combines especially
well with Mendes' drumming on "Shillong Train Running" (the reference
is to the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running"). The only drawback —
a minor one — is the triteness of some of the lyrics: "Born steel with the
thoughts of a man's appeal/ born steel with a hunky-dory back deal" walks
the thin line between nonsense verse and plain nonsense.
Having debutedMah'Bharatat Blue Frog in Mumbai last week, the
band will continue to work on new tracks, which will probably turn up on
another EP. (Mendes and Barretto will be especially busy in the coming months –
their other band, hip-hop/rock/reggae outfit Bombay Bassment, is set to release
its long-awaited debut album.) They also plan to record the debut Laxmi Bomb album
and release it by the end of 2015. It should be worth the wait. Like its album
art, which shows a modern-day cheerharan,Mah'Bharatapproaches the past with humour
and a refreshing lack of reverence.