TODAY -

Phynyx coming up with new original songs?

Jyaneswar Laishram *

Phynyx returns to rock again on May Day 2017
Phynyx returns to rock again on May Day 2017 :: Pix - TSE



After a prolonged gap of disappearance, veteran rock group Phynyx marked their return in the rock music scene of Manipur, with a live gig in Imphal on May Day last month, followed closely by another one at the annual Shirui Lily Festival in Ukhrul. Regrettably, the band in both the comeback concerts brought nothing new. Covering the same old songs all over again, in an obsolete fashion, they returned exactly as they were when they left the scene a couple of decades ago—a cover band. And that's not what younger rock folks in Manipur today expect from Phynyx. The youngsters no longer want bands playing only covers, unlike my generation who were teens in the nineties and fans of Phynyx.

There was a time and tide of cover rock culture in Manipur when amateur bands of diverse styles and standards were popping up here and there in every pocket or leikai around big and small towns all over the state. They gigged exclusively covering some good old classic rock songs. The trend unfolded in the late eighties, gained a peak time in the early nineties, and declined gradually afterward. One of the popular bands among them in that period was Phynyx that toured around places in Manipur and beyond. The band gigged in various landmark gigs at campus rock festivals in metros and big cities, such as New Delhi, Kolkata and others.

It was in the year 1995, Phynyx got the spotlight of recognition at the annual Great Indian Rock (GIR) festival in New Delhi, for they released their Woman, which is perhaps the one and only single the band has ever recorded 'originally' in their three decades of career. Since then they had constantly played it almost in every single gig they gigged around, even at the recent Imphal gig too; but so sadly, younger rock folks in Manipur today seemed to have not been impressed by Woman. This doesn't mean the young folks don't like old numbers. They like, but not the like of Woman, which reverberates with the synth (synthesizer) effects of the eighties.

Not all genres or styles of rock are belonged to the same time period. It has been said that rock music attained its best sound in the sixties and seventies. Then came up the era of disco and pop in the eighties wherein everything was subjected to synth or techno effects — even rock not spared. It was when glam rock was born and lived short. And it was in that style Phynyx did compose their Woman, which sounds something so synth-centric and becomes a dormant sound today.

Anybody who says Phynyx is still good, would surely be someone of my generation, as I mentioned above, who was teen in the nineties and enjoyed the band's cover gigs then. If truth be told, goodness of Phynyx we (the then generation) feel today is not much about their music. It's the nostalgia we connect to those timeless songs they cover. We were brought up listening to those old classic numbers from Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR), Rainbow and others in the seventies up to Europe, Bon Jovi, Guns & Roses and so forth in the nineties.

However, the trend and tradition of rock in Manipur has extensively been changed over the years while Phynyx was in a periodic break. The change had come in form of the emergence of a host of rock groups who don't sing covers. These groups have so far recorded and released their own original studio albums and singles, not only in English, but in Meiteilon too. They are the ones in the state who broke the convention of cover era, proving the fact that rock can also be rocked in Meiteilon.

Originally Phynyx was sliced from its original mother group of almost the same name with slightly different spelling and totally different meaning — Phoenix. Ever since the two bifurcated bands parted ways, led by two different frontmen, there have been tussles and scuffles materialising between the musicians on both sides. Len Gangte, who is now leading Phynyx as lead vocal, had received some flak from one of his erstwhile Phoenix band mates for susceptibility in their Imphal comeback concert. In what it appeared to be a condemnation than a suggestion, the complainant in his post on Facebook indicted Len and his existing members of Phynyx for failing to maintain the band's archetypical style during the gig. It was absurd, absolutely an absurd accusation! Cover bands in Manipur have no archetypical or signature styles of their own, whether it's Phoenix or Phynyx, they just imitate others.

No doubt, Phynyx are talented rockers and Len a capable vocalist. Their current line-up is Len on vocal, guitar by BK, bassist Ringo, youngest member and newest entry Jimbo on keyboard, and Bobby on drums. Either in Manipur or outside, Len's vocal variation is always critically acclaimed. He sings diverse genres of rock, covering numbers from the seventies to the nineties. And sadly, this is where the problem started with today's young rock folks, who don't value cover bands. The young folks want Phynyx croon something in their own sound, even when they cover either Deep Purple or Guns N Roses, forgetting how Ian Gillan or Axl Rose sings.

Cover band is like a sportsperson engaging in all categories of sports. Is it feasible? 'No' is the answer, and the same holds true with a rock band as well. Well, when we look back at those years in the eighties and nineties, one might find more than a dozen of amateur bands, who were contemporaries of Phynyx, in big cities like Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Delhi. They all somehow managed to exit from the closet of cover culture in the beginning of the 2000s, heading to studios for recording their own originals, while Phynyx was all alone lagged behind them. Phynyx must carry on. They shouldn't end up as a cover band.

One of the present members of Phynyx, who is a close friend of mine, recently whispered in my ear informing they are gearing up for some new original songs, based probably on blues rock. Even, Woman is said to be reproduced with a new arrangement. Let's look forward to it. After that, Phynyx should act like a rocket on take-off each day, or everything will be too late to escalate!


* 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 June 11, 2017.


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