A contemporary Carnatic rock band…there’s a phrase you don’t come across all that often. But there exists such a band in the form of "AGAM" – the name is derived from an ancient Tamil word meaning "the inner self".
The Bangalore-based group comprises seven talented musicians: Harish (vocals, violin), Swamy (keyboard), Praveen (lead guitar), Jagadish (rhythm guitar), Vignesh (bass guitar), Ganesh (drums) and Shiva (ethnic percussions). Their debut album, entitled "The Inner-Self Awakens", was released in October of this year and has been well-received. In fact, renowned playback singer Shankar Mahadevan called them himself, saying "Brilliant work, guys. I am really glad to see how your music is taking traditional Carnatic music and presenting it in a beautiful, unique way. Please accept my best wishes." The group – clearly ecstatic by this high praise from such a phenomenal singer – shared this on their Facebook page, adding "There couldn’t be a bigger validation for our effort than a few good words from some one like Shankar Ji. Thank you, sir!"
It’s always refreshing to see Carnatic music presented in a new way, in an age where many purists may argue that the majority of "fusion" music released these days detracts from the authenticity of the ancient form of music. However, it’s clear that AGAM have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of the South Indian musical art form, and while they may be giving it a contemporary, rock-y edge, they are still maintaining Carnatic music’s integrity.
Have a listen below to the track "Swans of Saraswati" from AGAM’s debut album. The track centres around Saint Thyagaraja’s composition "Bantureethi Kolu" in Ragam Hamsanadham.
Have you checked out AGAM’s debut album yet? It can be purchased here or here. Be sure to check out their website, as well as the band’s Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up-to-date with their music and gigs!