The Bangladeshi music scene has been burgeoning for decades. Over the years, the industry has seen the emergence of numerous stars, many of whom have gone on to solidify their reputations as superstars in their own rights. The adulation earned by notable bands such as LRB and Miles, to name two, have served as inspirations for the many new bands seen today. Unfortunately, the surge in the number of bands has led to a saturation of the music market, so to speak. Thus, it has become hard to come across a band with true star power, leading to the industry's growth now being stymied. But there are diamonds in the dirt and finding the few can reinstate one's faith in the future of Bangladeshi music.
Alternation, a band that has been around for almost a decade now, is one such well-loved group. Still without an exclusive album to their name, the band has been languishing in the upper-tiers of underground scene for a while now. Although the underground scene too is diluted with a rash of hurriedly-put together bands, who then form and fade in the blink of an eye, Alternation stands out prominently. Despite not having an album as of yet, Alternation has refused to go away and their popularity soars almost every year. The recent open air concert at IUB was testament to their popularity, with the band immediately recognisable and their introduction during the concert meriting a round of the noisiest applause.
With Towhidul Islam Khan aka Sumonto as the vocalist, Arifeen Mahmood Khan and Kazi Sharier Ahmed on guitars, Azfar Rahman on the Bass and their newest addition Quazi Zulyad Islam on drums, the band line up has changed little over the years. Unlike most bands, Alternation refuses to be confined to a single genre. With many different inspirations, Alternation's taste in music is a reflection of their member's preferences. The songs they write and compose are also heavily inspired by what they observe around them. When pressed, they'll say they are Alternate Rock with an experimental barrier, but their own compositions so far have only broken barriers instead of being restricted within them. All the different elements then come together in their tracks, making it whole.
CrypTool, Cry Baby, New Gun and Shomrajjo- their four most notable singles, all jump genres, changing from rock to jazz to whatever mood they are in. The themes they explore are equally varied. New Gun looks at the positive side of life, cherishing the smallest and most obscure blessings while Cry Baby is an annoyed vitriol directed at perceptions that people about themselves and others. These are just two examples of their range.
What separates Alternation from other bands is that they refuse to take themselves too seriously. Their concerts, such as those seen in BRAC and Chittagong Peninsula, bring about the real identity of Alternation and explains why they hop genres. Alternation is a group of musicians disguised as entertainers. Their undeniable talent is complemented by their desire to have a laugh. During concerts, they are known to burst into renditions of Alif Laila, Chak-boom and a cover of Mila and Momtaz', two of Bangladesh's biggest pop artistes. They have even performed Captain Planet live, with a side order of Tenacious D, an offering bordering on sacrilege. Except, Alternation pulled it off with finesse.
Detractors point towards a vocal weakness but again the flaw is understandable; going from Ozzy Osbourne to Captain Planet and on to James Blunt is no easy feat. But it's best to judge for yourself; Alternation's singles have been released in three mixed albums; 'Ashor', Mixed Tape' and 'Play it Now'. Give them a listen and then see for yourself what the Alternation is all about.