• Sat, Apr 20, 2024

The New Serpents Of Pakhangba Single Is Delightfully Odd

Jan 16, 05:15pm

‘Headhunters’ is really weird, but it’s so much damn fun
 Photo Courtesy: Serpents Of Pakhangba

Serpents Of Pakhangba is another venture from Mr. Vishal J. Singh, the genius behind the multifaceted and always strikingly original Amogh Symphony. In a crowded Indian indie scene, this band and their unapologetically left-field sound couldn’t come to the fore at a more opportune time. ‘Headhunters’ is a crazy and chaotic trip that sounds like very little else, and while it won’t be the easiest thing for everyone to digest, it doesn’t even consider the prospect of dumbing itself down in the slightest.

The track is a good example of how one can create so many different things with a base set of instrumental elements that you can find in a variety of genres. Most ‘melodic’ (if you can call it that) elements are handled by drums, vocals, guitars and bass. But what they come up with together is like listening to a radio whose knobs are being twiddled by someone on an assortment of psychedelics. There’s an album’s worth of transitions, structural fun and musical turns in the track’s almost six-minute runtime. It’s hard to decide where to start; Aruna Jade’s vocals have melodic sections that are harshly contrasted with the kind of modern funk-freakout that Genevieve Artadi does in some KNOWER songs. There are times when they are delivered in a more spoken fashion, except that they’re being delivered with a mad streak that almost makes it sound like you’re being yelled at. Manas Chowdhary brings some growling and endlessly groovy bass to the table that is further supported by some dangerously jazzy and unhinged drumming (Fidel Dely Murillo is the band’s drummer, and drums on this song were recorded by Subu Nomo). And then, of course, there’s Vishal’s guitar, that does everything here except start dancing on its own. It’s angular at times, then it’s serene and beautiful for a bit, and then it goes into full-scale metal riffage. It really is a full-blown assault on the senses.


“Serpents Of Pakhangba are very much themselves here, and while that might mean they’re off their rocker, there is a lot of fun to be had if you do the frankly quite difficult job of allowing yourself to.”

‘Headhunters’ starts off with the groove that will stick in your head for a while whether you want it to or not. It's a jagged riff in odd-time with some almost cartoony vocals that sound very funny until you find the tones of violence and human turmoil in its lyrics. The choruses are also quite dreamy and sweet, but that lasts only for a few seconds before you’re plunged into the madness again. A section of what almost sounds like everyone doing a call-and-response to each other, and an atmospheric stoner rock riff with vocals that sound like they’re in a Western movie follows that. And that’s the first half of the track. Sometimes, there are songs where the best form to description is to just listen to the damn thing. This is one of them. The remainder of the track finds time to have a wacky guitar solo, a head-crushing metal section and a high-energy and groovy refrain to end everything. There’s a lot to these six minutes and there’s a lot to digest on repeat listens.

Fair warning, however; do not even bother approaching ‘Headhunters’ with anything other than an open mind. It’s almost like having any expectations or indeed any idea of what you’re hearing sort of ruins the experience, and while that’s definitely a turn-off for many, it’s how the song wants to be perceived. Sure, every second of the song is ripe for finding certain traits that might be familiar. Some will find the whimsicality of Frank Zappa or Talking Heads, some will find the unhinged nature of some Mars Volta deep cuts, some will find the weirdness of Television, some will find the tones of their favourite brutal metal band… but it doesn’t matter. Serpents Of Pakhangba are very much themselves here, and while that might mean they’re off their rocker, there is a lot of fun to be had if you do the frankly quite difficult job of allowing yourself to.



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