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Press Release |  02 Jul 2016 15:30 |  By RnMTeam

'XX', The Ska Vengers' releases its new album

MUMBAI: The Ska Vengers, one of the country's most original and distinctive musical performers, released a new album, 'XX' [pronounced double cross] – their second record since their debut as a band in 2009 – on July 1. The album will be followed by a four-city tour of India, and an eight-week UK tour, that includes appearances at festivals like Secret Garden Party, Boomtown and Bestival.

Armed with influences that range from reggae, punk, hip-hop, Afro beat as well ska, reggae, dub and jazz, The Ska Vengers have built themselves a repertoire of music that’s exciting, fresh and timeless at the same time.

Their self-titled debut album, released in 2012, is a seminal record in the history of Indian music and their yet-untitled second album will only cement their reputation for being a theatrical band that doesn’t shy away from making a statement, musical or political.

The band’s line-up includes Begum X (vocals), Delhi Sultanate (vocals), Stefan ‘Flexi’ Kaye (organ/percussion), Chaitanya Bhalla (guitar), Tony Bass (bass), ‘The Late’ Nikhil Vasudevan (drums) with support from Shirish Malhotra (tenor saxophone) and Bollywood music veteran and mainstay of RD Burman’s orchestra, Kishor Sodha on trumpet.

New album: ‘XX’
The new album, released on July 1 2016, took three years in the making, and follows the evolution of the story of the band, as much as their music. New influences have crept in as musical personalities have become bolder, and the band grows stronger as a cohesive unit.

The band known for their predilection to speak on current issues continue their plain speak – in the tradition of reggae music and related genres – on ‘XX’ as well, where the songs strike a rebellious tone and touch upon themes ranging from government surveillance, incarcerations and murders to love and longing.

“We began recording the second album at the beginning of 2013 as we’d written much new material since our first album. The band had progressed as a collective of writers and more influences had been creeping into the songs such as Afro-Cuban (‘Cumbanchero’, ‘Afro Fantasy’), disco (‘Belly Ska’), Afro Beat (‘Double X’), hip-hop (‘Frank Brazil’) punk (‘Jewel Thief’), psychedelia (‘Jail Mein, Afro Fantasy’) as well as ska, reggae, dub and jazz styles that could be found on the debut album,” says Stefan Kaye, founder and mastermind of the band.

‘Frank Brazil’ – the band’s interpretation of a murder ballad – on the life and trial of Indian revolutionary Udham Singh, was the first single and video off the new album that the band released in 2015.

The next video to be released will be the 10 minute-long song ‘Afro Fantasy’, directed by Sachin Paillai and Stefan, featuring Russian ballet dancer and contortionist Yaroslava Yaraslava. The song also features French guitarist Mathias Durand who has mixed most of the songs on the album.

Though the yet-to-released album follows the standardised pop format song – ‘Shut Your Mouth’, ‘Frank Brazil’, ‘Belly Ska’, ‘Woman of the Ghetto’ – the record also observes the band’s shift into sound textures through tracks such as the Latin Jazz psychedelia of ‘Afro Fantasy’ and ‘Jail Mein’, that somehow manages to blend RD Burman-esque arrangements with the ferocity of garage punk.

With the band’s keyboardist Stefan acting as the main producer, the group have also focused on including instrumentation into their sound such as theremin, dholaks, tumbi, glockenspiel to add colour and depth top their sound.

The band will also undertake a four-city tour to launch the album and will also undertake an eight-week tour of the United Kingdom, playing at some of the most famous venues and festivals like Secret Garden Party (July 24), Boomtown (August 11) and Bestival (Sept 11), around the island nation through July, August and September. The UK tour is organised by Urban Beat Project, in association with Stiff Kittens Inc.

Gig details
City: Delhi
Date: July 1
Day: Friday
Venue: antiSOCIAL

City: Mumbai
Date: July 14
Day: Thursday
Venue: antiSOCIAL

City: Pune
Date: July 15
Day: Friday
Venue: High Spirits

City: Bangalore
Date: July 16
Day: Saturday
Venue: The Humming Tree

Europe tour dates
July 23, Saturday: Osyter Festival, The Duke, Whistable
July 24, Sunday: Secret Garden Party, Riptons Abbot
July 26, Tuesday: Coya Restaurant, London (TBC)
August 2, Tuesday: Xiringuito, Barcelona (Spain)
August 3, Wednesday: Alternativa, La Bisbal
August 11, Thursday: Boomtown, Hampshire
August 13, Saturday: Hootenanny, London
August 20, Saturday: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
August 26, Friday: Punky Reggae Party Festival, Manchester
August 28, Saturday: Riverside Festival, Durham
September 1, Thursday: Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
September 2, Friday: Vamos, Newcastle
September 3, Saturday: Studio 24, Edinburgh
September 10, Saturday: Mirth, London
September 11, Sunday: Bestival, Isle of Wight