Mirror Magazine

Music unites
Combining different genres, three unique individuals and their varied experiences, Sawarsha launches their debut CD. Marisa de Silva finds out more

East meets west in the new CD ‘Samaramu Mithudam’ from Sawarsha, a union of three local musicians and two uniquely different genres of music, to be released by April this year. From the contemporary guitar riff to the beat of the traditional ‘raban bera’, the three musicians Primal Liyanage, Kuma De Silva and Roshan De Silva have managed to forge a unique blend of music that is sure to give the local audience a pleasant surprise.

In “Re Anduru Werela”, a song about the lives of fisher folk, you can hear the distinct rhythm of a ‘rabana’ being played in the background, with meaningful lyrics and conventional songs associated with fisher folk, taking the forefront. A few excerpts from the well-known fisherman’s song “Odi Helai Helaiya” sung when dragging in their nets each day, is worked in giving the song authenticity.

Although, all three musicians have been essentially components of the western music scene, over time, they have all been involved or influenced by the local music industry at some point. Having composed songs for the likes of T. M. Jayaratne, Indrani Perera, Mariazelle Goonetilleke and the Gypsies, Kuma has often been in touch with his oriental roots. He started out young as a classical pianist, and then moved on to the jazz and pop scenes, where he took up the bass guitar. ‘Manilal & Upeka’, ‘Noeline & Galaxy’, ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Blind Faith’ and now ‘Boomerang’ are some of the significant ‘big names’ he has been a part of. From pop to rock to jazz bands, in addition to his early training in classical music, Kuma’s music is proof of his exposure to a range of musical influences. This makes a substantial contribution to the group as he experiments with all types of music to create some unique styles and sounds.

Childhood friends, Kuma and Roshan played together for ten years, until Roshan quit, to start his own recording studio. It was when Roshan met with an accident and was recovering from it that the ‘brainchild’ – releasing a CD – was born. It is also how the title track “Samaramu Mithudam” (celebrating friendship) came into being, as Kuma composed it as an ode to their friendship. The CD was thus titled after the song, as it was the basis for the concept. Once he recovered, Kuma and Roshan decided to go ahead with their plan and after recruiting the third part of their trio, Primal, they worked for about two years on the CD.

Although, of the three, Primal has been a part of the music scene for the least amount of time, he has packed in as much exposure and experience in his six years in the industry as he possibly could have. Having been a part of the likes of ‘Flame’, ‘Wild Fire’, ‘Blind Faith’ and then ‘Boomerang’, Primal has been a member of some of the leading bands in the country. As a result of working with bands such as these, Primal has managed to gain a wealth of experience over the years.

All three of them display their diverse vocal prowess on the CD, with Primal tackling most of the high range sections of the songs, Roshan adding the local twist and Kuma joining in with his unique style.

All the songs are originals composed by one of the trio, except for a Sinhala remake of Don Williams’ hit “Till The Rivers All Run Dry,” a personal favourite of Primal’s which he himself has written the lyrics for. Although many of the songs revolve around love, some of them deal with society, lifestyles and even friendship, says Primal. The songs are a mix of rhythm‘n’blues, salsa, Latin American, funk jazz and the likes.

One of the songs in the CD is a fusion of salsa and oriental music complete with the tabla beat. Yet another song named “Jeevitha Satana”, has a semi-rock beat to it, with Primal playing some groovy lead guitar. Some of the lyrics for the songs have been written by Hemasiri Halpita, the late Dharmasiri Gamage and Sanjeewa Nicholas.

The CD was recorded at Roshan’s studio (R. E. S. D. Productions), established about ten years ago. In his long stint in the industry, Roshan played with bands like ‘Sohan & the X-periments’, ‘Manilal & Upeka’ and ‘Pro Arrangement’. Since he started his studio, Roshan has done a few solos, but this is the first time he has worked with a group, since his premature retirement from the music scene.

Some of the songs on the CD have already been given to a few radio stations. Once they are aired and depending on the feedback they receive from the listeners, they will decide whether or not they should release any more, said Primal.

This is apparently not going to be the first and last project by Sawarsha. They intend to follow it up by recruiting another guitarist, bassist, percussionist and a few back-up vocalists and start performing professionally, they said. Watch out for ‘Samaramu Mithudam’ early this year, rest assured it’ll be one good buy!


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