It's an accepted truth that most bands do their best work in their early days. This is especially the case in Bangladesh, where resources are limited, but it's also very easy for a band to become part of the musical establishment. And where limited resources force creativity, having an entrenched fanbase may force artistic expectations which discourage newness. This is why LRB's greatest album remains Tobuo, Arnob's Chaina Bhabish, Cryptic Fate's Sreshto, and so on.
The Crowd's music is the apotheosis of the idea of early genius. Having formed on August 17, 2013, they are barely a year old. This is their first album, “We Are Not Allowed To Say No”.
“Brunch People”, a mid-tempo song with fuzzy guitar and a groovy riff, sets the tone. The drummer, Saadman Maheer, is also the singer. If you're lucky, you can make out one or two of his phrases. But his voice is as fuzzy as the guitars, and more than a speaker of words, it's a melodic, sometimes percussive (as in “The Guy From The Video Game”) instrument.
The two guitar players, Baivab Titam and Sinjan Saadat, work well together. Recently, they posted a jam video on their Facebook page, and it is worth checking out to see how they play to each others' strengths. The Crowd love to vary textures of sound, with quiet parts and walls of noise sandwiching each other. This is primarily done by the two guitarists while Saadman and bassist Asif Ayon hold down a groove. One standout example is the shreddy, noisy section at the end of “My Insignificant Other,” with one guitar tearing at your eardrums while everything else moves on placidly.
Frequent tempo changes are a mainstay in Bangladeshi rock, but most bands do it like a changing of traffic lights. You know when it's coming and you feel like everybody deserves a pat on the back for stopping at the same time. Not so here—there are often pretty drastic things happening, as in “Rogue Dilemma,” but it's all part of the flow.
In the third act, the album gets introspective, more soundscapey. The wonderfully spare “Meiji” blends into the lush “Letters And Coffee”, which has a glorious crescendo. “You Know”, the album's closer, has the groove of a Can song, except, to my sorrow, it's only 2 minutes long instead of the 18 that it should be.
The Crowd cite as inspiration the immortals from that glorious decade between 1965-75: The Beatles. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors. You can hear these influences, but the music is also entirely original, entirely modern. Some purists might complain that the production of this album might have been a tiny bit more slick, with one or two edges a bit more polished. But you can also make the argument that this is part of the charm. When you encounter something so wondrously original, you don't want everything to be perfect. Leave perfection to the Coldplay copycats. This music is ALIVE.
The digital copies of the album are available in Spotify, iTunes, ETunes(for Bangladesh). There will be 150 limited edition physical copies of the album available which will include a 24-page booklet with lyrics and artwork. For additional details on ordering the physical copies, please go to http://www.facebook.com/abitcrowded.