I’ve got a backlog of grind and violence bands that I need to cast the spotlight of GmG on but I’ve been neglecting the one band I believe to be the future of extreme music; or at least the closest representation of where I think extreme music needs to go. Chepang aren’t by any means a mainstream act, but the persistent coverage and accolades they have been receiving since DADHELO – A Tale of Wildfire exploded out of Nepal via New York is completely justified. With an impetus on creating music without genre for a world without borders, the Gurkha blast commandos just released their latest huge offering of trend-destroying, attention-pulverizing world music – Chatta. Dangerous, defiant, and ultimately destined to explode out of the insular world of grindcore/powerviolence/whatever.
Just one part of the sheer fucking majesty of Chepang’s attack on unsuspecting eardrums stems from the pure, unfiltered grind that d-beat and crust freaks will lap up like it’s warm beer shotgunned in a subway tunnel. DADHELO gave the double drum attack the freedom to shift and blast and smash through preconceptions of what grind can be; the native Nepalese instrumentation and singing given the centre stage to truly represent where the band come from. On Chatta, the grind chaos has increased exponentially, diving into manic and debilitating passages of panic chords and distressing bouts of punk violence turned up to one hundred and fuck per cent. “Sano Dhukur” and “Barood”, for example. The former teases with a thin veil of OG grind, complete with huge divebombs and improvised solos, while the latter approaches cacophony with the dual textures of smashed skins and cymbals. All in, the actual “grind” of Chatta makes up only the first half of the record and though it is scintillating, creative, and rowdy as it gets, the future of Chepang is given room to start cultivating as the record winds down – so to speak.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the band that the tail end of this record takes a hard shift towards improvisation and free-form extremity. The band were involved in the BARRIGA DE VERME project; an open-ended experiment of duelling drums and audio manipulation, featuring Chepang members plying their trade alongside producer Colin Marston and members of TEST (Brazilian grind extremists – see their split with Chepang for hair-raising bedlam). Chatta, in turn, contorts into grind completely free from the limitations of the genre. “Antim Bhet” and “Trishna” start to go the way of Pyrrhon or Imperial Triumphant, morphing into this truly unsettling death/grind/prog hellscape that is impossible to pin down with a genre tag. Now, I love genre tags and I’ll endeavour to try and squeeze something into a little box for my own neurotic purposes, but I’m fucking stumped with this. Not in an unpleasant way though; the remixes that close the record turning album tracks into single doses of grind decadence in dub and break/speedcore formats, again pushing the envelope in a manner you’re not going to find anywhere else in grind.
I have the pleasure of enjoying the online company of one Kshitiz Moktan, one of the blast commandos responsible for gifting the world with this ultra-intense, polarising creature of a record. When asking Moktan if there were any artists in particular he thought I needed to check out, he fired me links to the free jazz of Tashi Dorji, and Dorji’s releases with saxophonist Mette Rasmussen. Having both featured in Chepang’s music, I expected at least some level of familiarity with the sound, but I was mistaken. Instead, I’ve found myself neck-deep in a new world entirely. And I’m fucking loving it. With a prolonged delay in Chatta being released (recorded last summer – released a year later), Chepang have since pushed themselves even further away from the conventions of grind, and their intention is to continue long down the crazy-paved road of free-form music. They will be throwing structure and convention into the bin in a manner that 99% of people claiming to be “leftfield” couldn’t possibly comprehend. The next Chepang record might be completely unrecognisable from the band that have blasted a hole through the greater grind scene, and on the back of the enchanting Chatta, we should all be patiently ecstatic to hear what’s next.