The Story So Far – Papon
The Story So Far – Papon releases his first Hindi album
Papon (Angaraag Mahanta), a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and one of the most powerful new voices of Indian indie releases his debut Hindi album The Story So Far on Times Music. With snug melody lines and balmy vocals that seem to channel the undulating hills of Assam, the album takes you on a journey, conjuring up the calm, peaceful mountainside from where its stories have originated.
Papon’s folk music leanings and the desire to engage an audience began in his childhood in Assam. His parents Archana and Khagen Mahanta, both celebrated folk music vocalists of Assam. Papon has six Assamese albums to his name – two original albums Jonaaki Raat (2004), Sinaki Osinaaki (2009) and four folk albums – Rong Phool (2008), Gomseng (2010), Phoolseng (2011), which are all Bihu albums as well as a Holi album Phagunar Gaan (2010). Gomseng and Phagunar Gaan were nominated for a GIMA award in 2011.
Through his Assamese folk albums, Papon tries to keep traditional folk music alive. He explains, “I’m trying to revive and in a way archive the traditional folk music in its original form – what Bihu is. This is actual Bihu documentation with the traditional instruments that are played, to revive and keep it going.”
While rooted in folk, Papon has a wide variety of influences and is an extremely versatile artist and composer. He recently found himself in the spotlight on Coke Studio India and is almost considered the ‘find’ of the show. He featured on the critically acclaimed original TV series The Dewarists by Dewar’s collaborating with music icon Rabbi Shergill over the track Khule Da Rabb.
Papon’s long-standing collaboration with pioneering producers Midival Punditz have led to songs he’s co-composed like Har Ek Baat and Naina Laagey finding their way to Bollywood film soundtracks like Soundtrack. He’s also sung on tracks like Jiyein Kyun for film Dum Maaro Dum and Zindagi Aisi Waisi for film I Am Kalam. Papon also has recently collaborated with renowned composer-multi instrumentalist Karsh Kale on the track Absence for his fifth studio album Cinema and also with Sushmit Sen on the track The Voyage on his first solo album Depths of The Ocean.
Most recently Papon has collaborated with percussionist Bickram Ghosh and quickly rising Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni, over a project called Troikala rooted in contemporary folk; they’ve performed across the country and will soon release an album.
The Story So Far shows off Papon’s versatility as a musician and composer. The feisty folk song Boitha Maro Re and the dreamy Chhoti Chhoti Baatein that is pure pop have a meeting point – it’s the magical place where the hills find resonance in Papon’s voice. Papon explains, “I wrote the songs on this album when I was in the Himalayas, so it’s very influenced by nature. It’s a calming, introspective album – one that you’d listen to at the beginning of a long journey, or after you’ve dimmed the lights at home.” Boitha Maro Re is a Goalporiya folk song. The music from Goalpora is full of ancient river songs so famous that it’s said to have influenced Baul and everything from East Bengal to Assam. The song tells the triumphant story of a boat race in Bhatiali where the community lives around the river. Baavle Jharne is a mountain nature story.
Full of metaphors, the song is a letter from the mountain to the stream, asking the stream to go to the ocean and come back to him in the form of rain. The Story So Far, which has been ready for four years now traces Papon’s journey as a musician. Papon says, “I’ve definitely grown as a musician since then, but in a way, I couldn’t have reached where I am now if it wasn’t for those songs, and this album.”