BANGLADESH: Trimatrik - Aurthohin
A tapestry of rock music in which Aurthohin dip Bangladesh's toe into the sea of hard-rock in style
Growing up in the UK I took for granted the already wide-range of music that had been in existence for years before my birth and as a child I naively viewed everything, from disco to R&B, as styles that simply came fully formed without questioning their development into what they had morphed into as I discovered them throughout my youth. Part of the good fortune of being born in a place like England in the 1990s was that the volume of the diverse genres of music one could be exposed to was vast, and the UK (alongside the US) was seen as the nation at the forefront for music culture. Nowadays, whilst I of course try to look back and be more appreciative of the tapestry of music I had at my disposal in England, I am beginning to learn and understand more about that special process of nation’s forming their own interpretation of ‘western’ music genres.
“...the pleasure of this album is it is a band laying down the DNA for rockstars of future decades from Bangladesh to decide the path they might chose to follow.”
When living in the Czech Republic, I remember going on a hunt to find any underground funk or disco music produced during the communist era. My curiosity to hear what the early Czech versions of mimicking and adapting the genres I was most enamoured with, at that time of my life, would sound like was incredibly high. Despite being rather unsuccessful in finding what I was looking for, time and again throughout this journey of discovering albums from every nation am I presented with examples of musicians outside of the UK and US bubble producing music that was heavily influenced by what was being made popular from those two nations. One only has to look at the current K-pop revolution to hear a modern version that repurposes what is popular in the charts in the UK and US only to add their own Korean twang to it.
When it comes to hard-rock, in the 60s and 70s the genre became fully-formed in the UK and US to the point where artists’ music from that era are regarded as the best examples to show off the genre. The genre was proliferated in the same time across the world, in which artists such as Dutch rockers Golden Earring were making music of the same ilk and in some respects arguably even improved upon some of the greats. In the same time, rock music as whole was only just seeping its way into the public consciousness in Bangladesh, and though it was causing almost a musical revolution in the country, it was doing so bit by bit.
As the nation gained independence in the 70s, the decade saw a small handful of pop-rock artists that might have been more palatable at the time in a country still very much finding its feet. Though the 80s did welcome the likes of Nagar Baul and Warfaze (which contained Iqbal Asif Jewel, who went onto produce Trimatrik, as well as Aurthohin’s vocalist and bassist Saidus Sumon) would have been playing hard guitar riffs, the hard rock of bands such as AC/DC and Black Sabbath was still very far away. Aurthohin’s debut album Trimatrik released in 2000 is considered as one of the country’s first hard-rock album. This is despite the fact that the album only contains two hard-rock songs.
This is not a criticism of the band, in fact far from it, because what they ended up producing was an album filled with different rock stylings whilst still maintaining an inherently Bangladeshi feel due to their decision to sing in Bengali, before the wave of English-language albums rock artists swept across the nation. The album has moments of being as hard as granite on Bedonar Chorabali and Shomoy, which both display some immensely powerful percussion from Rumi Rahman. However, the album is filled with stunning rock-ballads like my favourite track Odhbhut Shei Chheleti (That Weird Boy), the gorgeous piano-infused Dur Theke and the dreamy lullaby-esque Tepantorer Math Periye.
The balance from the soft as chalk to the hard-rock and everything in between makes the album a wonderful spectrum of rock, perhaps on average a limestone rock album. Guti and Amar Na Bola Kotha contain gloriously funky basslines and are almost prog-like at times, whilst a song like Chole Gele is just fun catchy pop-rock number that everyone can enjoy. For me, the pleasure of this album is it is a band laying down the DNA for rockstars of future decades from Bangladesh to decide the path they might chose to follow. The album allows them to be considered a more relevant influence for young Bangladeshis who regardless of their taste within the rock genre have something for everyone, making them more appealing to look towards than mainstream stars from the West.