(Album art designed by Bernard Dumaine and Daeve Fellows; additional art by Imran Ladak)
Objectively speaking, Firdous is a fairly decent album – that much I can appreciate (if not fully feel). It’s long (10 songs, most of which clock either over or around five minutes), but the dynamics within the music lend it a kind of versatility that prevents the length from becoming jarring for the most part. The songs have been crafted in terms of composition and arrangement, and not merely jotted down – a cohesive narrative (musically) runs through the record. There’re tons of proggy spaces that the band is daring enough to venture into – somewhat in the vein of Oceansize (whom I love) and Porcupine Tree (zzzz) – and the snazzy instrumentation actually augments the songs instead of overshadowing them; the intricate work on the drums is a particular delight. They sing in Hindi and they don’t even sound like Jal (if you discount the chorus to ‘Raastey’), so that’s always a good thing. And it’s a concept album with complex artwork and everything, which is a brave move in itself wherein you’re asking your fans to go through the extra effort of unraveling a puzzle of some sort. The songs apparently have an alternative order to them which ties together the conceptual narrative of Firdous – possibly a nod to Tool and their obsessive fans over at Toolshed. So yes, Coshish’s debut does check most boxes – it has to be a good album that people should hear. Objectively speaking.
Then again, I don’t really like the album – it’s not the fault of the music; it’s my own fault. I cannot ever fully appreciate Hindi lyrics in music and get emotionally invested in the songs, even though I rarely, if ever, listen to the actual words, regardless of language. It’s odd. Maybe it’s because Hindi lyrics take me back to those godawful music classes in school where they made us sit on a torn carpet and we were forced to sing Hindi folk songs in unison and pretend like we meant it – that put me off music in my early days. Maybe it’s because Hindi words remind me of those thousands of Hindi movies I ingested as a kid – each one with 10 different song-and-dance things – movies that I pretend today that I never saw or heard of. Maybe I just think of Magik and Rock On!! Or maybe it’s because I’m suffering from a colonial hangover and cultural imperialism has had its way with me; maybe I’m secretly a xenophiliac and I hate all things to do with Indian culture, tradition, language, etc.
Or maybe it’s simply because of linguistics and music. I don’t like the sound of Hindi words placed within the context of music, more so western music such as this album does, irrespective of the actual lyrical subject, because that anyway comes later. It’s just that the tonality of the words and their natural rhythm is something that doesn’t sit all that well with my aesthetic sensibilities and taste. That’s essentially all it is – a matter of taste. But, especially with an album like Firdous, which seems like one that’ll be hard hitting and make an impact, I get the illusion that it’s all been watered down and filtered and over-processed and made over-accessible (even if that may or may not be the band’s intention) – I feel underwhelmed and it all seems a bit of nothing ho-hum whatever when it shouldn’t be. That’s why, as good as the vocals probably are (I can’t make a fair judgement on them, although they seem good enough), the instrumental eight-minute closer ‘Mukti’ is my favourite off the album. I could be missing out, but I could just as easily not be.
Watch the official video of 'Raastey' by Coshish below:
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