Thaalavattam, which translates to a circle of rhythm, is a unique percussion project that harnesses the universal power of music to inspire people to “reduce, reuse and retune”. Musical instruments are handcrafted from “found objects” creating cutting edge sounds. These “organic grooves” emerge from discarded tubes, industrial waste, paint cans, plastic bottles and bicycle parts, etc., and are electronically sampled to provide a musical experience. This musical project is the brainchild of Montry Manuel, percussionist and graphic designer. It was founded in 2011. The artist shares his journey so far. Extracts:
“As an artist, I thought that using my two strengths – design skills and music – could help me do something creative and make this world a better place, and that’s when Thaalavattam was born, ”said Montry. The Thaalavattam genre follows a cyclical cross-music, going from hard core to calming music, inspired by his past life, which also includes dark elements. “I also love dance music and I want people to dance when I play my music because that’s the conversation I want to have with my audience. When they dance back to my music, I know the circle has come full circle. Thalavattam is universal. It could be anywhere. It’s the rebirth of “found objects” and giving “waste” a chance to produce music, ”he explains.
Recycle items to craft instruments
While on tour abroad, he was influenced by street musicians in Australia and England. From being a popular band, it has gone back to basics like collecting pots, buckets and pipes. “I started to be more open and to notice so much garbage around me, it made me want to create my own instruments. And what’s interesting about my project is that I can use these “found objects” to make or break it as well as to collaborate on them. This is the freedom I have after 15 years of observing my life with other artists. My favorite instrument is the tubela – the pipe. Currently, I am working on a new instrument, which is created using plastic bottles, and called “Bottle Pan”.
Try to innovate at home
Montry worked on a variety of musical instruments, which he assembled using discarded objects. One of the most popular instruments he uses is the “tubela”. It is made up of three large PVC pipes, a small jug and small pieces of wood. Montry also has a PVC didgeridoo – an instrument of Australian origin. Currently, he is working on a new instrument created from bottles, which he plans to call the “bottle-pan” as well as the “bitar”, made up of broken frets and guitar strings.
Montry’s musical inspiration
Montry was born in Kerala. He grew up with his brothers and cousins, who played music and had a great influence on him. “Kochi was a place where a lot of bands performed and that inspired me. I have always felt a real connection with music, especially the arts and rhythm. I used to dance and rock my body to the beats. And watching other kids banging on desks and pans really gave me the space to do something with that, ”he says. His taste for music is progressive. Growing up, he listened to music from African bands, Boney M, George Michael, Death Metal, Metallica, Dave Matthews and World Music. A self-taught calligraphy designer, Montry arrived in Bangalore in 2002 and got into advertising. A few years later, he joined the popular group Swarathma. And then seven years later, he separated from the group to pursue his passion for environmentally friendly instruments.
You could learn from him
The project has toured in 26 countries, and Montry’s favorite place to perform is Berlin. “I play the first beat and the crowd goes crazy. Currently my travel schedule is divided into six months in India and the other six abroad, mainly in Europe. I will be playing in Mumbai, Switzerland, Austria and soon in Berlin. I also plan to perform in the US, Canada and Australia next year. In addition, I organize workshops for children all over the world, teaching them how to create instruments and about live looping.