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Significant sound
- Cactus speaks up on its new album, Tucchho

It’s been a long time coming, this one. After four years of silence since 2004’s Rajar Raja, CACTUS, the harbinger of melodic rock in Bangla, is back — and with a bang — with Tucchho (Asha Audio), officially launched on September 19.

Troubled times now past, the band is gung-ho with its new line-up — with Allan Ao (guitars), Sudipto “Buti” Banerjee (keys) and Sayak Bandyopadhyay (vocals) in the fold — along with long-time bassist Sandip Roy and founder members Siddhartha Shankar “Sidhu” Roy and Sibaji “Baji” Paul (drums). The mood in the Cactus camp is positive and that is mirrored in the uplifting piece of music that is Tucchho.

Recorded at Studio Vibrations, Calcutta, with engineers Ephraim D’Souza and Anupam Roy of Grey Studios, Delhi (known for his work with The Superfuzz) and mastered by Dave Collins, the LA-based former chief mastering engineer of A&M Records (with a back-catalogue of credits for The Police, Soundgarden and Linkin Park), Tucchho is at once a return to the band’s uber-melodic roots while retaining a contemporary, alternative simmer. Tucchho may change perceptions about Cactus — forever. t2 gets the lowdown...

An album after four years: what does it feel like?

Sibaji: The creative process is one that needs sufficient care and thus takes time. The new line-up for Cactus was settled a year back. While Tucchho offers a few compositions which we have been playing for a while, we reached the best possible arrangements of the older tunes with this line-up.

From recording live drums to the songwriting and arrangement, this was different from what we have done in the past.

Allan: We were very motivated. That comes across in the music.

How would you define Tucchho’s sound?

Siddhartha: This is the first Cactus album recorded with live drums. Our engineer Anupam spent days on getting a big sound out of the drums and the end-result offered a different facet to the music. With everyone’s contribution, Tucchho has an edge — over all other Bangla rock albums.

Sibaji: This is the first time that the band insisted that I play live drums in the studio. I started reacting to the sound that they brought to the table.

Sayak: While both composing the new tracks and rearranging older tunes like Pakkhiraj, we experimented. Allan brought an alternative element to Cactus’s sound.

Sandip: This particular sound has only evolved over the last seven or eight months. Since Allan’s inclusion, we got back our older chemistry vis-a-vis Wise. That certainly helped. Our USP is melody — in Tucchho, every song has a melody that will have recall. Allan: The way both Sidhuda and Bajida reinvented themselves to suit the new sound, making it sound very contemporary, was amazing. Tucchho will put us on the Indian rock map.

Sudipto: This music is happening globally, right now.

Siddhartha: Tucchho is, by far, the best product from Cactus. It combines the passion of our first album with technical excellence.

What’s been the creative process like?

Siddhartha: Everyone had their creative freedom, though 75% of the songs were already written. Writing something in the seclusion of your room is something, but writing something collaboratively is a rare experience: which happened with Sabdhaaney raasta periyo. Allan and Sayak were pondering over the verse and chorus tune, I came up with the lyrics and everyone else chipped in after that. It felt great.

What’s the recurrent theme?

Siddhartha: “Spirituality” might sound smug, so let’s say that Tucchho (“insignificant”) encompasses life experiences. When one overcomes the worst experiences in life, day-to-day sorrows seem insignificant.

Sandip: This album offers no negativity, the philosophy talked about here is very positive. Take Sabdhaney raasta periyo, for example. The song that ends the album is titled Bhalo theko (“take care”). Not much to be said after that.

Allan: This album is about positivity, about a catharsis.

Tell us a little about the unique album art for Tucchho...

Allan: Tucchho’s album art was conceptualised and designed by Delhi-based graphic designer Reuben R Bhattacharya (also the bass player for the metal band Undying Inc). Most people don’t recognise the importance of album art, which is an art form by itself. Reuben is from Shillong and he has been a long-time Cactus fan. He came up with the concept of ants: apparently insignificant, but with roles of their own in the face of the universe.

Sandip: You will pick up Tucchho because of the album art. It’s not a typical Bangla rock album; it looks and feels international.

Which is your favourite Bangla band? Tell

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