TODAY -

Jangled all the way with Jiangam

Jyaneswar Laishram *

Guru Jiangam
Guru Jiangam :: Pix - TSE



When we look back, the year 2016 had witnessed a handful of losses of iconic musicians, whether it was in the international arena or in the regional domain of Manipur. Commiserations poured in on the big names ranging from Leonard Cohen to George Michael internationally and Jiangam Kamei in a close quarter, locally. For Jiangam who is still remembered among us for his versatile musical talents, he was someone who would penetrate into a landscape of diverse genres and styles. He was a singer, a composer and a guitarist - all he did manage and balance well for any given genre, with rock on forefront.

When it comes to singing, my appraisal for Jiangam as a singer may get a bit of backlash. Ask me one of my all-time favourite Jiangam songs, what I have is 'none' because he had nothing in that way. He was not a singer of big hits of his own. His eminence as a musician or a composer was of teaming up with renowned Manipuri solo singers and groups, giving them his sheer contribution of rock in composition of some of the timeless singles and albums in diverse genres, dialects and styles. It was either into a rock group or a gospel troupe, Jiangam had never missed bandwagons down on roads all around during his musical voyage spanned from 1985 to 2016.

Man behind Bad Boy

If you are a Tapta fan, there is an undisputed chance for you to love Jiangam. Tapta, a regional fusion band under the front-man and terrible vocalist Loukrakpam Jayenta singing whole mix of national and international styles including rock, roped in Jiangam for their second album, The Power of Attraction-2, released in 1997. Among the unconventionalities in the newly released album was the number Bad Boy, composed with staggering hard rock riff and speed rhythm that Jiangam played - for sure, the first ever blend of hard rock in a Meiteilon song, with startling lyrics. Tapta emerged like a new phenomenon in the contemporary music circus of Manipur, jangling and rocking in Meiteilon. And Jiangam played a vital role in it as the lead guitarist on a few of the band's albums.

The Power of Attraction-2 was released barely after a year of the first (1996). Many academic maichou (prophet scholars), particularly in New Delhi, predicted that the album would hit the ground as the first The Power of Attraction was still selling well in the market. The host of maichou also claimed Tapta did a big mistake by producing the second album without an appropriate break. But all their reactions went wrong as Bad Boy saved The Power of Attraction-2 from falling in the first week of release. With the first song of the album, Bad Boy, on Side A, that youth and young people enjoyed its unrestrained contemptuousness in lyrics, every single track in the album more or less rocked every one of us with Jiangam jangling all along.

A piece of rock

Had the component of rock missed in his music, Tapta (Jayenta) would have failed to garner what he achieved in the first place, which lingered undying among us. Tapta did something extraordinary further than any other musicians singing in Meiteilon could ever do, using the rock that Jiangam brought in. Tapta's first few albums did pull an extra dose of fans, particularly youth, who often jammed at the cover rock gigs staged in local town halls, community centers and on leikai lampaks (club lawns) nearby.

The cover rock era in Manipur, which attained its pinnacle in the mid-eighties, gave birth to more than a dozen of amateur bands, apart from a few prominent ones, popping up in every leikai around Imphal and other towns like Churachandpur, Kakching and Bishenpur. They (the bands) covered classic rock hits, particularly from the seventies, pulling a crowd of convent school teens. That crowd was what Jiangam helped Tapta tap.

Tapta and Jiangam were in a win-win collaboration in which both embarked upon a new discovery beyond the cover rock circus. The cover rock era in Manipur lasted for about a decade and Jiangam's presence in it was prominent; he led two short-lived bands called Devil Worshiper and Dark Domain. A big ambiguity in that era was that most of the bands were appeared to be metal or anti-Christ, only in their (band) names or wardrobes, not in the real sense of the genre. None of them has had had record of commercial success.

Rocking in Meiteilon

Perhaps, the decade of cover rock era came to an abrupt end when Tapta set a new evolution of music, proving everyone that rock could also be rocked in Meiteilon. In turn, a string of popular rock groups of divergent genres, such as Eastern Dark (now Eastern Doc), Imphal Talkies N The Howlers, Phunga, Koi, to name a few, sprang up one after another producing their original singles and studio albums, successfully. Apart from Tapta, another big collaboration Jiangam had was with Ranbir Thouna whose style was deeply influenced by Karnatic and Hindustani music. Jiangam gave a relevant rock twist to Ranbir's songs like Manglanda Laktuna in the latter's one of the ever successful albums, Talents of Ranbir.

Finally a guru

Jiangam's demise, which was untimely, left many of us with deep sorrow and grief. He was just 53, sam as George Michael who died. Born in Imphal, Jiangam resided at Langthabal Kabui Khul, tucked away far from the maddening city crowd. Filled with full of zeal and ardor about music since younger years, Jiangam started his music journey as a singer from 1985, with the release of a handful of his debut Rongmei modern songs. He was known for breaking all communal boundaries when it comes to music. Apart from Rongmei, he involved in singing and composition of various other popular songs in diverse dialects and languages, including Meiteilon.

Over the years, Jiangam had emerged as a household name for goodwill music. His involvement in music of almost all communities in the state made him an emissary of love, co-operation and understanding. In the year 2012, in recognition of his dedicated contribution to the field of music, art and culture, Jiangam was bestowed with the Guru title (for Guru Shisyaram Para) awarded by the Ministry of Art and Culture, Government of India. For the precious endowment, he was felicitated by Zelianngrong Artists Forum and Ancestral Composite Features of Manipur (ACFOM). Let's remember him for the way he jangled for brotherhood among all.


* Jyaneswar Laishram wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at ozzyjane(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on January 14, 2017.


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