TODAY -

Khallui by Sil Heiba (Critical Dissection of a Quintessential Manipuri Baraque Pop Song)

Ningombam Captain *

cover art of 'Khallui' by Sil Heiba
cover art of 'Khallui' by Sil Heiba



"Angangba nongjabido numidang wairamgi yengningludre, eidi yengningludre"

The given lyrics when translated, "Don't wanna see the scarlet rainbow in the dusk, I don't wanna see", looks like the emotional lamentation of a tragic psychedelic pop song written by bands frequented in the genre, like Tame Impala.

Well, it is an extract from a heart-wrecking song called 'Khallui' written by Silheiba Ningombam. He records under the stage name 'Sil Heiba' as a solo artist. The song is recorded in the home studio set-up of Bode Paonam, who happens to be the guitarist of the alternative/funk rock band Recycle. The song was released on the 7th of November, 2017 via Soundcloud and Youtube along with an official music video, after continuous effort of hectic recording and video shooting, all done in the period of one month.

Before recording as a solo artist, Silheiba Ningombam was the frontman of the indie rock band 'Tarzans and Perverts', having a short spanned career of only 3 years. But the 3 years of existence was filled with an active schedule, ranging from participating in music festivals and local gigs such as River Bank and Peace Blast Concert upto the release of an EP titled "The Experiment". After much ado about the band's fate, it ultimately broke up. The primary hard-edged, upbeat sound of the band can be heard in Sil Heiba's song.

"Khallui" is in the key of E major and listeners will often find this song different from other Manipuri indie rock songs. This is because, speculating in the terms of both lyrical content and aesthetic style, the song is unique and can be classified as an indie rock song with strong elements of baraque pop and psychedelic music, which is something no other recording artists from the state has tried yet.

The song length is 4 minutes and 51 seconds. The song begins to be interesting from the very opening second when the vocals start to give out a meaningful but hyperbolic sigh indicating the emotional turbulence in the lyrics to follow up. Then, the addictive down-stroke plucking of the lead guitar cues in along with the consistent drums, which in unison creates an illusion that the loop has been playing on for a long time even before the audio started.

This is done by the perfect unison of the guitar and drums and avoiding a major fade in of the music. Exactly at 00:30 seconds, the guitar ceased and the vocals cue in to the drums. Structurally, the pattern is a common pop music "verse-pre-chorus-chorus" form in the first upbeat movement. From the second verse, the pattern starts to have a more unorthodox flow with a pre-chorus/chorus hybrid section and a bass solo in between.

The bass solo is one of the best parts of the song as it not only fills the deficient degrees of emotional disruption accompanied by the lyrics but also brings back the early vibe of the Arctic Monkeys. At 1:22 minutes, the trademark interlude of the song starts.

Musically, the interlude of "Khallui" is a spontaneous, tone-changing melody comprising of the vocable "aa aa" sung in a tone slightly higher than the chorus. The choice of the particular vocable in place of the common "na na" or "la la" is a clever one, as it suits the lyrics so much. If we consider the whole lyrics as a "tick" the vocable interlude is a "tock", thus satisfying the ablaut reduplication. The song is classified as an influence from baraque pop bacause of the repeative melody and the ending interlude which is accompanied by a violin in the same tune.

The song would have hit finnese if the vocals are diverted from its monotonous delivery. The vocal ability of Sil Heiba is not showcasted in the song as his delivery is only in the baritone register. The listener might somewhat feel a bit overexposed to the interlude, which is repeated thrice near the ending of the song and this might endanger the chorus as they are of the same melody. Besides these little triffles, the song itself is perfect, overall.

The music video of the song is produced by Nonsense Films under the direction of Andy Tourangbam Meitei. His usage of stop motion technique in the video is exquisite. The male and female protagonist cast are Silheiba Ningombam and Neeru Thoudam respectively.

The flashback scenes are interjected during the performance of a band in a dark room. The shot of the flashback scenes is done in a follow shot cinematic technique which reminds the viewer of the old tricks of Alfred Hitchcock. The narrator of the song seeks of his lost love who was seperated from him likely from a case of betrayal (as the symbolic protuberance of a safety blade from the female protagonist's mouth suggests).

As far as the song is concerned, it is structurally innovative and musically perfect. The lyrical meaning of the song suits the emotional music which has the ability to rock a melancholic listener to his core. The baraque pop sound and the Manipuri lyrics make the song, first of its kind. When the song combines further with the music video, it becomes almost irresistible. No wonder the youtube video garners more than 10k views in a period of just two months.

References: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiKEWSr0c4o






* Ningombam Captain wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at ningombamcaptain(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 23, 2018.



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