Viewing The Koi’s sophomore EP in a kaleidoscope
Eigi Waabu Ningsingduna
Artist: The Koi
Genre: Indie folk/alternative
Length: 15 mins 21 secs
Release Date: 20 June, 2018
World Music Day, this year, witnessed one of the most awaited release made by the alternative folk band, The Koi; following their debut bilingual album Episode 1, released three years ago. After performing in many music festivals around and their much-hyped concert in Delhi, their sophomore EP Eigi Waabu Ninsingduna was released on Youtube without much advertisement or a promo gig. Nevertheless, many fans and avid listeners didn’t fail to get notified for it– something to glimpse as a post-Episode 1 legacy. However, the EP fails to make much impression on the listeners unlike their debut, despite the fact that it consists of some mesmerizing tracks. Its sonic elegance and raw artistry makes it appreciable but not memorable. Conversely, the EP is significant enough in single-handedly changing the band’s earlier ‘clean’ folk attribute into a cheesy indie folk sound with lo-fi elements.
The opening track Thadoklami Eina Nangbu defines the sound of the EP with its genius instrumentation and surreal lyrics. The introduction to the song is its consistent drum loop and the way how the strong sounding drums get dissolved in the background of the entering keyboard and hand-plucked guitar contemplating with the bass, is a thing of utter euphony. The instruments resonate off each other to the most perfect extent that it starts to sound like an orchestral performance at some point. The most unique feature of the song and the band itself is the use of the languid sound of sliding roughly on guitar strings. This technique was already used by the American musician, Tom Morello. Technically, he is rearing the output sound of the technique on an amplifier but the Koi deliberately use the raw sound itself to amalgamate it to an already existing wall of sound and produces a unique harmony. Their marvelous musical craftsmanship is thus, unquestionable and remarkable. If Bon Iver were a Manipuri folk artist he would have crafted a song much similar to this track and it is comparable to his song Holocene in terms of its resultant mood and instrumentations. This can further be supported by the fact that Bon Iver uses woodwinds and horns (like an orchestra, but in a folk song) in the later part of his aforementioned song. Similarly but uniquely, the Koi also use a minimal string section in the outro of the song. The opening track is the best offering of the EP.
The titular track Eigi Waabu Ningsingduna disorients us in a profoundly mysterious way. The song itself is melancholic but the snare drum rolls rapidly throughout and the lyrics undoubtedly project it as a break-up song but there is something strangely spiritual in its aesthetics. I will NOT advise you to send this to your ex-lover, seriously, because this song can be interpreted in a whole new dimension other than a mundane break-up story. The instrumentation of this song is somehow similar to the precedent track, but a lead electric guitar dominates in this song and has a significant climax as the outro. The vocals in this song is performed in three different ascending octaves with the last one heard in the climax. A demo version of this song was performed live by the band dated two years before in the Peace Blast 2016. This song imbibes the attributes of a folk song into an alternative realm, which clearly shows the diverse potential of the folk genre.
Chatliba Lambina Kadomda serves as the third track. Lyrically, a protagonist warns the listener of premature decisions and procrastination in life, further stating his unfortunate fate. The song is relatively more upbeat than the other tracks but somewhat feels unnecessary to the EP. The prevalent atmosphere built up by the precedents is not favored by this track. This does not mean that the song could not do well as a stand-alone track, but rather that its inclusion makes the EP sound like a mixtape to some extent. However, this track clearly exhibits the Koi’s expertise to elevate poetry to sublime heights.
The last and the shortest track is called Likla Marik Marakta and like the name suggests, it is peaceful and plaintive almost like an easy-listening song. The lyrics depict a regretful and yearning lover in a clam evening surrounding musing over the crimson clouds. An eerie Electro-theremin sound accompanies the guitar plucking, which in unison, serves as the riff of the song. The song brings back the vibe of the later tracks in Episode 1.
The most significant characteristic of this EP is the judicious use of the bass guitar. There is no doubt that Episode 1 was an acclaimed album among the listeners, and indeed it shaped the course of local folk rock scene, but some diagnosed that the minimal use of the bass guitar caused the songs to lack depth and unappealing when played through a large sound-system. Well, this problem is completely solved in this EP as we find the bass guitar residing perfectly in the songs making them complete. The EP is thus, a very important contribution to the collage of skilful sonic artistry in the state. The Koi did us proud. Again.
Risikesh Thangjam - vocals
Siumit Lukram - guitars
Ton Arambam - guitar, keyboard
Seonath Wakrambam - bass guitar
Jyotin Elangbam - drums
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