A Prog-Head’s Understanding of Time- Midhaven’s Concept Album “Of the Lotus & The Thunderbolt”

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The modern indie music landscape has seen a steady surge in the quantity and quality, of bands and singer-songwriters, over the years, tapping into a vast variety of genres, ever-expanding the fanbase. Amidst the surge for branching out on the genre tree and bringing newer and exciting projects to the table, Mumbai-based prog rock trio Midhaven decided to dive into the expanse of the prog rock genre and created an exquisite blend with traditional Indian strains to present a 7-track concept album, “Of the Lotus & The Thunderbolt”. This comes after a 7-year gap since their last full-length album release.

Midhaven has described this album as their homage to the ruler of time, Shiva, aka Mahakal, as they try to explore the expansive and layered concept of time itself. The album is set-up in a unique way so as to present the tracks as chapters of a book exploring an individual soul’s journey to realization. Although the core premise revolves around the cyclical nature of time and the effects of its echoes throughout the multiverse, the lyrical layout talks more about an individual yet universal soul that has its mark on every human being, a soul that has been ‘chiseled to perfection’ by Time itself. The trio speaks about how their thought-process lead them to realizing the multifarious elements in motion in the grand cosmos and how the unending loop of time essentially means that whatever has happened is bound to repeat over and over again. “For reasons not entirely known to us, it felt as though time channeled itself though us for the creation of this album. We were merely conduits in this process”, said the band. This exploratory and intrinsic conceptualization of time and the personal journey therewithin has been perfectly visualized by indie artist Gaurav Basu by way of the album art. Inspired by the Tibetan Buddhist “Thangka” paintings, the band says that the artwork “depicts a contemporary yet personal understanding of time in an anthropomorphic sense.” The artwork is a visual aid for the audience to understand the thematic progression of the tracks and how they relate to the next one, making them a comprehensive whole.

Artwork by Gaurav Basu

Talking about the band and their journey to completion of this album, guitarist Karan Kaul notes his age-old thirst for exploring the intricacies of existence and the ‘why’ of it all. “As a musician, your inspirations come from the very things you consume, so writing an album with a historian & a proghead time-keeper was the most natural thing that happened to me”, said Kaul speaking of the conceptual genesis of the album. Bandmate Aditya Mohanan also shed some light upon how his career as an archaeologist/historian served as a segue to his fascination with ancient philosophy and metaphysics.

The 7-track album has been beautifully laid out, each song carrying a unique lyrical and musical element that represent a specific part of the individual soul’s journey. Right from the introductory notes of “Para Brahman’, the audience is left anticipating what’s next as the angry and impassioned vocals set the tone for the forthcoming tracks. The explosive sound orchestrated by exquisite instrumental proficiency tying in the unexampled blend of Indian and prog-rock elements coupled with the fierce vocals, is carried on in the following two tracks, each of them sporting a different portion of the grand theme. The elegant instrumental track ‘The Immanent Effervescence of Sorrow’ changes the pace to usher a slower yet equally hard-hitting set of tracks that gracefully carry the audience to the outro. This eclectic bevy of soundscapes and themes has been intricately knit together, mixed and mastered by Australian producer, Forrester Savell, who has worked with several global musicians of repute (namely, Animals As Leaders ,Make Them Suffer, & Karnivool among others). The band says that his input has successfully brought in a sense of refinement in this unabashed and visceral creation.

As with any project seeing the light of day close to the pandemic, Midhaven’s plans for a 2020 release and a subsequent tour were shelved due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, they strategically used the time to sand off some rough edges to really make their release flawless. Gaurav Basu’s visually gripping artwork compliments the theme and lyrical tone of the album. In essence, the band delivers an awe-inspiring mix of Indian and time-honored progressive rock elements to create an explosive, visceral yet refined concoction that is bound to reignite the flame in the hearts of metal fans across the country.