Pentagram is simultaneously one of India’s best and most hated bands. All their concerts are packed to capacity, but you’ll often find a significant number of the crowd booing (“Sellouts”, they’ll shout, or “Go back to your Bollywood!”)— most of their ire directed at frontman Vishal Dadlani, who forms one half of film music duo Vishal-Shekhar.
Mental heroes: (from left) Papal, Randolph, Shiraz and Vishal.
Pentagram, who’ve been sort of quiet the last couple of years, have recently updated their online home www.pentagram. in, and are putting up a series of video podcasts and blog posts that will document the recording of their fourth album Bloodywood, which comes out in December. The first episode, currently live on the site, focuses on one song—Mental Zero, and touches on topics as diverse as furniture breakage and the problems with beedis.
The group’s first album, We Are Not Listening (1996), was accomplished enough, with catchy tunes and anthemic excess Indian rock is known for. But it was their second album, Up (2002), that cemented their reputation as one of India’s edgiest rock bands. Up discarded Pentagram’s “alternative” trappings and penchant for Rage Against the Machine covers, and introduced a distinct electronica layer to their evolving sound.
It was a brilliant new direction for the band—their explosive live shows bearing testament to how well it works for them.
Their third album, It’s Ok, It’s All Good (2007), cemented their sound more than taking it forward. The band members’ side projects—Dadlani with Vishal-Shekhar and guitarist Randolph Correia with straight-up electronica funk act Shaa’ir + Func—took centre stage.
Bloodywood will obviously bear some heavy acoustic signatures from the work Pentagram members are doing outside of the group, but that’s what makes it so exciting. It means a Bollywood-laced, electronica-tinged funk rock record with Pentagram’s trademark live energy. You can’t go wrong with that.