Susmit Sen, founder and guitarist of Indian Ocean, launches his highly awaited solo album, gracing us with a live performance at Landmark.
One fine day, while I was soaking in the earthy but heady odour of the old books tucked away in a remote corner of Landmark’s archives, I heard a lot of hustle and bustle outside, in the main foyer. Curiosity got the better of me, and I arrived there, only to witness a small stage being set up, along with mics, amps and monitors. That’s when I realized that it was the 17th that day! Landmark had long been advertising that Susmit Sen would be giving out a small solo performance, but being so busy with work and related these days, I had lost all track of time! It was a sheer stroke of luck that I just happened to be sneaking in a few sniffs at Landmark that day… and I decided to put off everything else to watch this legend play up close.
The last time I’d seen Susmit Sen was in November 2011, when Indian Ocean were the headlining act at the Dewarists Stage at NH7’s Weekender.But this time, I got an unobstructed view of him, as he started off the evening’s set with his song, ‘Tribute’.
Considering that he writes songs for Indian Ocean, and that his album is also called “Depths of the Ocean”, it makes sense that his solo stuff has a LOT in common with Indian Ocean’s earlier music, especially the freely flowing folksy melodies. Nonetheless, it isn’t the same as listening to an Indian Ocean record with the rest of the instruments on mute – quite the contrary. Here, one gets to experience the very depths of Susmit’s inner feelings, as he effortlessly emotes himself through his guitaring.
Watching him play, I couldn’t help but get lost in his music, while contemplating over a series of technical and musical questions. How does he produce that kind of music, when his guitar is practically just a thin frame around a fretboard? How does he achieve that kind of tone, when one can’t see any pick-ups, or even a bridge for that matter? How is it that he can play such mellifluous sitar-like notes while incorporating speed, tremolo picking… and before I could even get out of this rapture, Susmit brought on stage Rajeev Raja to accompany him on flute.
In a word, the duet was beautiful. Both instrumentalists complemented each other perfectly, without ever overwhelming each other. Rajeev Raja may be an adman (DDB Mudra), but he seems completely at home on stage with the flute. After their duet, Susmit played out a number he had written even before founding Indian ocean – a number that might be almost 30 years old – the title track of his new album – ‘Depths of the Ocean,’ Each and every moment of this melody was brilliantly played, from the slow, bassy intro to the galloping interludes and bridges within. Susmit also invited on stage some other friends and collaborators on stage to sing along to his guitaring, thereby presenting the audience with sneak peaks of his work outside of his solo album.
Here, Tannishtha Chatterjee’s seemingly gibberish (she said so herself!) lyrics blended well with Sen’s soulful guitaring, leaving the listeners in a momentary trance. The whole performance lasted slightly under an hour and a half, after which Susmit was ambushed with demands for signing his CDs from fans who had flocked to see him from far and wide. One fellow had even come all the way from Gujarat (one could tell by his accent that he wasn’t lying)!
It’s really hard to google up images of Susmit Sen. I really wonder why…
Stay tuned to www.highonscore.com for more on Susmit Sen.