In Profile: Space/Ghost
29 October 2014
The spotlight is poised over our eastern neighbours in Bangladesh for India's second edition of the Border Movement Lounge, set to take place take place tonight and tomorrow at Delhi and Kolkata respectively.
Headlining both events is talented Dhaka based electronic producer - Som Saha a.k.a. Space/Ghost. He’ll be playing alongside some top-notch homegrown electronic artists, more information for which you can find here.
We decided it was time to alert the Indian music community of the steadily increasing talent emerging from the region and appreciate the mind behind the music of Space/Ghost.
The upsurge of electronic music in Dhaka over the last couple years is one worth noting. Those of you following Border Movement would know of the Dhaka Electronica Scene – a budding musical collective based out of (you guessed it), Bangladesh, is gradually gaining attention from the international community as a burgeoning experimental music and cultural space in the region. As a member of that community, Saha states that the young team do what they do “out of love”.
Before adding anything else, I’m going to address the elephant in the room - Space/Ghost is indeed named after the magnificent muscled and masked Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name that aired back in the 60s (80s in India). Honestly, we asked him; “Yeah, I had to introduce a slash to avoid copyright infringement. It's fascinating to think of the days when superheroes used moog modular.”
If archaic analogue synthesizer’s preoccupied Saha’s mind while watching cartoons, it’s of little wonder that his music sounds the way it does now. Despite a western traditional training in music (he’s a classically trained pianist), Space/Ghost tends to lean towards the synthetic, robotic sounds that feature in his namesake cartoon series, though he does claim to have “hated music as a kid” – “later, somewhere along the way it all started to make sense. I think my drive wasn’t focused towards something specific, I just wanted to create something.”
Although he hasn’t released a comprehensive body of work so far, Space/Ghost’s sound is instantly recognizable. With numerous comparisons to early Daft Punk (think 2007’s ‘Alive’), the obvious influence of French electronica and an affinity for manipulated robot voices, his output can’t really be compared to anything we have in India (that I can think of). His single ‘24/7’ (featured in the ‘Melankoli’ compilation) and stellar stand-alone track ‘Kimosabe’ are proof of that. Both singles are worth a listen with their reverberating manufactured vocals and pulsating bass lines.
Space/Ghost is also heavily inspired by a sound that one would think exists on the opposite side of the sonic spectrum. Classic Bangla music from the 70s and early 80s is a genre very close to the musician and one that features heavily in his recent work - “I still struggle to realize the simplicity they have left behind. It’s amazing.”
His dark, undulating collaborative track created along with fellow DES member B Regiment for the compilation ‘Nyurutsu’ is called ‘Niharika’, and features old Bangla tunes layered over abrasive percussion, infectious, looping bass and what seems to be the sound of chirping crickets.
Space/Ghost’s artistic side manifests itself in the Kaaktalio Studio – an independent space that concerns itself with a number of creative aspects including art, film, photography and music. “Kaaktalio is a studio where we experiment with things and figure out new ways to achieve something interesting and weird.”
The incredible video below was found on Kaaktalio’s blog and features the artist playing with an “interactive music installation” (created along with Humayan Islam) that seems to translate human movement to sound and reminds one, a little bit, of a new age Theremin. “The installation is an experiment to make music react with motion detection, but it’s still in its early stages. I wanted to be a scientist but that didn’t work out, probably because I flunked a lot. I hope it gets better with time.” The installation is under works for an upcoming event in Dhaka, set to take place in December.
Space/Ghost will be performing all new original music, which was created over the last few months at Hauz Khas Social tonight (Wednesday 29 October), and it shouldn’t take much convincing for you to come, have a listen and see what you make of it. More than anything, round 2 of the Border Movement Lounge, once more, allows us to explore a side to electronica that we may not have seen before, and presents itself as an opportunity for Delhi and Kolkata folk to delve into an innovative musical space that extends beyond the tired confines of our cities.
Words: Diya Gupta