Progressive rock isn't an elite- or exclusive music genre for the so called Western World. It isn't made for and made by European- and Northern American bands. In the last decades the genre is getting popular in many other regions. You can think about Southern America, Australia and Japan. As a genre the progressive rock is spreading his wings. And of course, there are regions in which the music isn't very popular yet.
As many lovers of the progressive rock genre I administrate my collection. I choose the A to Z method and I have setup my own digital database. This database also contains a search tag on country of origin. I like to know were an artist is from. When I get an album for review, first thing I do is find out where the band or artist is from.
Two years ago on Bandcamp, I found a band called The DA Method. They were based in Pakistan. I was a little surprised at the time. Pakistan wasn't a country which I associated with progressive rock, I also had nothing in my collection.
With Coma Rossi this “history” repeats in a certain way. The band is namely based in India. This is the first progressive rock band from India I have ever heard of in my entire life. After I got the album I started a little searching on the internet. Coma Rossi was complete unknown for me. As a reviewer I try to avoid prejudices. The DA Method from Pakistan for example really blew me away with their fresh music.
I can tell in advance that Coma Rossi's debut album is very interesting and the album opens a door to the future.
Coma Rossi has five band members and it has a more or less traditional line up. They're from the Bangalore area. Probably you never heard of it, but it's an agglomerate in the southern region of India and is has 8 million citizens. Coma Rossi has the following line up: Tom Borah (vocals, acoustic guitar), Gaurav Govilkar (guitars), Udayan Kashalikar (bass guitar, vocals), Juby Thomas (keyboards), Anuoam Panda (drums) and the additional musicians are Bhim Kaul (drums on 2 and 5) and Shawn Jacob (drums on 1 and 3).
After I listened to the album for the first time I detected a sort of consistency in it. What I mean is that the album has a constant-, dark atmosphere. This atmosphere is the foundation of the entire album. The rather dark vocals of Tom Borah are another red line through the album. The foundation of this album reminded me of the 80's and 90's and in particular reminded me of the legendary band The Mission. This is a personal feeling of course, but I can't get it out of my head. So the comparison has to be made and it's a complement to Coma Rossi. I really like The Mission and the gothic-rock scene around this band.
Most of the songs start very low tempo and have a lingering character. There are a lot of “cosmic” samples processed in the intros. The result is once more that all the songs start rather dark. I think this darkness is leading in the album. Don't expect an album that cheers you up. This is a general analysis by the way. Don't get me wrong by thinking that most of the tracks are almost the same. It isn't a copy - paste album.
The sound of the guitars is also marked. The guitar sound contains a lot of reverb and sounds hollow. Within this kind of music that fits perfectly, I really like it. Gaurav Govilkar doesn't use always the modal scales in my opinion. There are parts in which it sounds “Eastern”. He has distinguished himself with this, it makes him more tasteful in this genre. I must confess that I heard these sort of scales also by the Mission.
Besides the intros the rest of the album has a heavy character. Almost all songs contain an up tempo-, heavy part. These parts alternate with rustic parts. Coma Rossi succeeded in making a diversified debut album, that's for sure.
A lot of the tracks have rather large instrumental soundscapes. Soundscapes which contain much tension. That is what I like about progressive music. The vocal parts by Tom Borah, are great. Borah has an interesting voice. When I listen carefully to this voice and try to dream away in the total picture, I will never compare anything or anyone with Porcupine Tree. Porcupine Tree, for my personally, is the superlative. But atmospheres, vocals etcetera can be compared with the masters of progressive rock.
There is one track in particular that I want to mention: Jomolungma Is Far Away. It is an 8 minute instrumental track which has the theme the “Mount Everest”. Jomolungma stands for Mount Everest in Tibetan.
When you are thinking that it is obvious that a band from India makes a sort of magnus opus about this imposing, highest mountain in the world, you are wrong. The distance between Bangalore, hometown of Coma Rossi, and the Mount Everest is approximate 2.500 Kilometers. But as we all know Mount Everest has a rich history. This mountain appeals to the imagination of many climbers. The weather circumstances on the mountain are extreme. Exactly this extremity can be found back in the song of Coma Rossi. Tangerine Dream-like synthesizers build up clouds of tension. Very melodic guitar parts create an atmosphere as calm before the storm. After 3:30 ninutes hell breaks loose. The song develops into one of the most heavy parts of the album. But heavy means that there is always eye for melody. After the “cacophony” the song goes back a short time into the lingering mode, before heavy parts take over again.
At the end there is a guitar solo which makes this epic song complete. You can hear that Gaurav Govilkar is not only a technical guitarist, but that he also has the right feel. I think that I can say that Coma Rossi in general has the feel. They make music with the mind, but also with the heart. That's what I especially like about this band.
Coma Rossi has delivered a very interesting debut album. Personally I think that time will mature this band. It wouldn't surprise me that Coma Rossi is a very common name in progressive rock after several years. It will depend on how they develop themselves and also how often they can play gigs in for example Europe. Most of the time this is crucial for the perseverance of a band.
For me it is one of the most appealing debut albums of 2019. As I said, this band has real potential to grow to an even higher level. Time will tell what will happen to Coma Rossi.
I give Coma Rossi 4 stars of their debut album, but I also give a half star for the artwork, which is tasteful.
****+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2019