The clang of music
KARACHI: Music, like poetry, communicates before it is understood. The language of rhythm and melody has its own, unique method of touching different people in different ways. German musical group Mahaphon Clang’s performance at the National Academy of Performing Arts on Friday evening was no less a distinct experience. It would be futile to classify the kind of tunes that the band played, but it wouldn’t be hard to admit that it was thoroughly entertaining.
The Mahaphon Clang band comprises percussionist Ramesh Shotham, Jan Kurth (vocals), Matthias Kurth (guitar) and Lutz Streun (saxophone and clarinets). Maha means great in Sanskrit and phon is the level of sound.
The group’s immense talent became immediately apparent when it collaborated with Napa’s tabla players Ustad Bashir Khan and student Waqas Gulab. Streun’s saxophone introduced eclectic music to music lovers. The unconventional vocals of Jan Kurth added to the ambient sound of the composition, which slowly gave way to folk rock.
But as soon as Bashir Khan and Waqas Gulab left the stage, the band came into its own. The sounds representing elements of nature (wind, water, etc) created a haunting atmosphere. It became clear that the musicians were there to visually interpret a scene through music. Apart from using its auditory sense, the audience could also ‘see’ the music being played.
The penultimate piece was a foot-tapping track initiated by the masterful guitar playing of Matthias Kurth. The ‘bhangra’ groove was obvious. At the end of the composition, Ramesh Shotham, who hails from Chennai, told the audience that Matthias picked that particular melody when Mahaphon Clang visited Chandigarh.
The last performance was again inspired by an eastern (read: Indian) type of beat cycle, as the quirky Jan Kurth chanted during the performance like tabla players often do. As the composition reached its climax, each musician, led by Ramesh Shotham and Jan Kurth, got down the stage and joined the audience, followed by Streun and Mattias Kurth giving the impression as if their music was getting merged with the visuals of the concert. The audience later gave them a standing ovation. The event was organised by Napa and the Goethe Institut Karachi.