Artist: Whale in the Pond
Tracklist: 1. Marbles 2. Araby 3. The Call 4. Gadha’r Bachha 5. Autumn Winds
Price: ₹150 physical copy, ₹50 digital copy via mail
I’m not supposed to be writing this right now.
I have a paper due day after tomorrow. I’m exhausted. I have to write an application letter. I have to edit some stories. I want to find time for my daily journal. Most of all, I need sleep.
I’m not qualified for this, either. I don’t know anything about music. I don’t know how to critique it, or what goes into building it, or even whether it is good or bad, whatever good or bad means.
But here I am. And I’m going to tell you what this EP means to me.
The music was created by three friends: Sourjyo, Deep and Shireen. Two are from my college. The art was done by Reya, whom I’ve known since school.
So the people mean a lot to me, obviously. But then there’s the music.
The first time I heard this EP, I didn’t think, holy shit, I am in the presence of musical epoch makers. In fact, the first time I heard it, I didn’t think anything. I was on my way home from an internship, waiting by the Metro for my train to come. I listened to the 5 songs, thought them pleasant enough, and decided to to write a polite review of it at the end of the week, because I’d promised I would.
Then, last night, I came across Marbles, the song.
It was an accident. You see, things don’t feel like they belong to me easily or naturally. It takes time for me to warm to newness, to stop and pause and give the untested unknown time I’m afraid I might have wasted.
So I don’t. I simply hoard things, one after the other, never listening to them, but afraid to let go.
It was the same with this album. After that first play, I’d skipped all the songs in this album every time they came on shuffle. I’d constantly avoided them while selecting playlists.
Last night, when the opening of Marbles floated through, I didn’t immediately recognise it.
It had been an emotional evening.
I had been reading about the Holocaust, which reminded me of my childhood of reading Anne Frank and idolising her, and the hellish way in which she died.
And I had been thinking about how she had deserved better, and how the world deserves better than all the pain we inflict on it.
Then the song started.
It built slowly, with no haste. Just a melancholic twanging of strings that immediately, without warning, began to worm their way into my soul.
I could feel myself relaxing. My neck loosened, and the hands I’d unknowingly clenched dropped to my sides.
It felt like peace was being injected into my veins.
It felt like my pain, the world’s pain was leaching away, and all that was left behind was nothingness. Not emptiness- simply a reminder that the space for good things still exists.
And I could feel my fear pooling at my feet, pooling until sleep sank into my lids, and the fear melted away.
And then I knew what I would write.
I’m not an expert on music. I don’t know how it is built. But I do know how it makes me feel.
And what I felt that night convinces me that this is an EP you need to listen to in the middle of the night, around that time at panic o’ clock when you’re too tired and sad and filled with dread and burdened with so many worries you’re afraid you may never sleep again, because if you do, the nightmares will strangle you.
Or you could be a normal person and listen to it on a sleepy afternoon when the world is blurry and the fan is whirring noisily and your neighbourhood lies drugged and silent.
Or you could listen to it on a crowded bus with the conductor shouting names of reassurances : it’s okay, you’ll be home soon, you’re only a few halts away.
And, that, ultimately, is the magic of Marbles: Wherever you are, whenever you are, if you listen closely to its strains, Marbles will take you home.
When I started out to review Marbles a full three weeks earlier, on my birthday, I wanted to do this because I told a friend I’d help him. I wanted to do this because he is an artist, and as an independent artist myself, it is my duty to support him and his band. I wanted to do this because every one said he is brilliant, and I trusted them.
But somewhere along the way, I think this changed.
“Lost in a dream and there we meet,
Fading away as you waltz along the winding street,
There you go, go haunt the night,
It has been a while since I’ve seen no clouds over July.”
- says Marbles, meandering along its tuneful road.
I detest July.
It is a hated month, filled with greyness and incessant rain and the sobering reminder that I am now a year older, a year more ripe than my prime, which I sometimes see only in the past.
I don’t know if Marbles will change that.
Does the EP have its faults? I’m sure it does. Gadha’r Bachha is harsh and grating and easily one of the least likeable songs for me. Autumn Winds is not memorable enough. The Call has a pleasant carnivalesque sound that reminds me of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it’s not earth-shakingly perfect.
But here’s the thing, and it’s based on this that I ask you to go listen to it: I hope that it will.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I broke down listening to that song. Something in me broke and thawed, and the tears I’d held back finally flowed after six long months of death.
Maybe this EP will keep the clouds away for what’s left of this year’s July. Maybe.
Sidenote: do look up the lyrics of the songs. Whether you like the compositions, the words to each and every one of them are sheer poetry.