The Gandharvas – although the name is so Indian, the band is not. The Gandharvas, who take their band moniker from the Sanskrit word for the mythical all male spirits who had mastery over musical languages in ancient India, were a 5 member rock group from London, Ontario, Canada. No Indian connections as far as I can tell, except for the name. They were an alternative styled band and their debut album was as eclectic & weird & different as they come. Their 1994 debut, A Soap Bubble & Inertia, is a collection of tunes that would seem impossible to categorize other than ‘alternative’ but it is just not enough. The songs vary from First Day Of Spring, their most memorable & successful single, a song which sets the standard for the band, a semi-ballad that starts from a dreamy slow tempo to a more rockier climax to Circus Song, what can I can best describe as a Russian circus theme music! Seriously, the song reminds me of some circus shows that they would air here on Doordarshan back during the days of India-Russia cultural exchange programs.
Then there is Cans, which is an instrumental piece with cans being the main instrument backed by the usual guitars, drums & bass, the playful (it has birds chirping sounds) Dallying & the ominous grungesque Bundle. The Island is another slower tempo but rockier track with some cool lead guitar breaks and my favourite song on the album. Yes, I like this song more than the normal fan favourite of First Day Of Spring. I feel that you can add this track as the opening credits song of a movie about an island (?) where strange things happen or in which some lab experiments gone wrong occur.
The 8 minute Soap Bubble Meets Inertia is a grungier track with interesting interludes and the last couple of minutes could actually make up a totally different song all together. Other tracks are Breakfulls Of Heroin, the catchy & playful Coffee Song (“keep me awake, me awake, there’s still something to say, this is my surreal holiday”, Elevator Bugs, The Supreme Personality & Saturn Quits Fasting.
It’s too bad that the Gandharvas split up after only 3 albums and like 6 years of existence. I would club them among my favourites if I had heard about them when they were still around; as it is, I only heard them in 2002. Still, they are original enough to warrant a special place in the alternative & experimental music bracket of the numerous bands that have come & gone and stayed in our memories. You can to some of their songs & watch a couple of video at their MySpace site, which is maintained by a couple of their former members, now that the band is no more.
Song for the day – “The Island” – THE GANDHARVAS