Here’s another excellent slice of original music to add to the growing list of wonderful music made during the pandemic. Kolkata’s Driftwood Band is just seven months old, but bandmates Nabanita Sarkar (aka Bonnie) and Atandra Chakraborty (Buro) have been playing together on and off for over two years. With the pandemic putting paid to any plans of gigging for either of them, in May they decided to form a band. The EP Bloo, released in December, is the result of this collaboration. A slice of electropop gem with hooks that run for miles, Bloo is made up of five songs written and produced by the band. All of 13 minutes long, it rushes past. But what fun 13 minutes they are!
Of the songs, the most catchy by far is ‘I’ve Got a Crush’, an ingenious dancefloor banger. The bouncy pop arrangement of synthesizers and processed beats are undercut with lyrics of plaintive longing. Sarkar’s waif-like voice further heightens this effect. “I’m about to go bang my head, ‘Cause I can’t bang you,” she sings. I mean, who hasn’t felt this way in the year of plague?
The other standout is another song of longing (well, all the songs on the EP are about this), ‘Give Me a Call’. Sarkar sings about waiting endlessly for a call from her object of desire, but plays it cool, ala Chet Baker. This creates an interesting frisson between the infatuation of the lyrics and the aloof detachment of the vocal delivery. The downbeat arrangement and staccato one-note keyboard vamping over the chorus just heightens this effect.
The most 80’s throwback of the lot is ‘What I Want’, with a pulsing beat and vocal and synthesizer melodies that makes the song sound like an outtake from Julian Casablanca’s Phrazes for the Young. Even more fun is when Sarkar starts rapping, her phrasing and flow recalling Outkast’s Big Boi on ‘GhettoMusick’. The EP closer, ‘Wanna Be With You’, is another pop nugget, all techno beats and glitch jams, over which Sarkar gives a guy the glad eye. This is one horny album.
Those familiar with the music Sarkar and Chakraborty make separately might be surprised by the sound of the EP. Chakraborty is an excellent jazz guitarist, who is a member (along with Sarkar) of the folk band Mondegreen. Sarkar’s usual weapon of choice is the ukulele, and she’s played bluegrass and singer-songwriter music with her former band No Strings Attached and the US group, The Bluegrass Journeymen. Sarkar said the two of them started playing around with synthesizers in May, during the lockdown, and started writing the tunes and making beats. The band produced the music themselves, and just like the duo’s folky music before, the electropop sounds pretty authentic. And more importantly, fun.
You can hear Bloo on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube. Find the band on Facebook and Instagram. You can buy the CD at https://pages.razorpay.com/pl_GJ7d5yMyyxYt1t/view