Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Artist: Chaoba Thiyam
Genre: Revivalist folk
Length: 4 mins 43 secs
Release date: 25th July, 2018
Tymbal is a drumlike membranous instrument that produces a loud song when it is rapidly buckled and unbuckled. Excluding our case, no one, in all of human history, has ever used this instrument or the song produced by it in music. Do you know why? Because a Tymbal, unlike a Cymbal (pun definitely intended), is not a musical instrument at all.
It is actually an exoskeleton structure present in the abdominal region of the insect Cicada aka Hari Nongnang. The song produced by these insects are technically the mating call belted out by the males to attract the perfect mate of the same species. You can hear it in the hills and in areas with thick vegetation at around dusk.
Also, you can hear it right now in the song Kayada Ningthijaba Lambino by Chaoba Thiyam. I was about to simply introduce him as a filmmaker who made the experimental short Eye of an I, the Pena player of the Imphal Talkies 'N the Howlers, or as the photographer who shot the picture shown above. But his ideologies forbade me somehow; he considers his profession of a filmmaker, photographer, or a musician, as a thing of mere happenstance on his way to find beauty in aesthetics.
Chaoba Thiyam is "the dude" (yes, The Big Lebowski reference) when it comes to artistic realms. He just goes with the flow, like a tumbleweed - not confined to a certain form of art. With his proficiency in various forms of arts and multiple expressions, it will do justice to describe him as a "spiritual performance artist".
Practitioners of indie folk music are consciously or subconsciously aware that folk is already a unique genre. Then there are those who spice things up by adding a plethora of uniqueness; but excess is not a fault when it comes to folk music. Because sometimes, more is less. Chaoba Thiyam seems to know it very well. His music, which is experimental but not messy, has depth and sheer distinction.
There are quite a few tracks uploaded in his SoundCloud account and Kayada Ningthijaba Lambino stands out as the most melodic and original one. The song is 4 minutes and 42 seconds of pure ambience overlapped by warm tenor vocals and sharp ukulele chimes that resonates throughout. The ambience in the background is the backbone of the composition since besides making the song more interesting, it does two other things in particular. One is of technical importance i.e. it brings the song more depth, proving itself as a substitute for the bass guitar.
And the other is of intrinsic value i.e. it adds more meaning up to the point that the song itself can be analyzed from a quasi-cinematic viewpoint about narrating the transit of a day (or life); as the beginning of the ambient track depicts dawn and the end, dusk. The song starts with a dawn chorus of the birds in an early morning, depicting the inception of life. It then ends with the call unison of the cicadas during dusk, indicating the onset of death. Moreover, the sound of a running creek that persist throughout the song serves as a metaphor to life's continuity in the face of "flowing" time.
The music and the lyrics are devoid of the Pena and archaic words respectively, still the song carries an aura of a ritual Manipuri folk song. The lyrics talk about appreciating the beauty of nature, enlightenment and the life in mother nature's lap.
The line "Esana esabu yengjaba" hints to introspection and meditation, which is a crucial component of leading our lives in the way of Dhamma for the quest of Nirvana (clearly not the band). When the song of the cicadas cue in, the lyrics follows thus, "Kayada ningthijaba eseino"; this appreciates the beauty of an exit of something after serving its purpose, like the sunset, for instance. The song further talks about being and presence.
Interestingly, Chaoba Thiyam also considers presence and performance as self-discovery. So, Kayada Ningthijaba Lambino will never reach its zenith if not performed live. The lyrics is devoid of a chorus but the ambience managed it well. The song pivots around the contemplating flute in the midway. Also, the nylon guitar compliments the ukulele delicately by not disturbing the peace and indicating its existence at the same time.
Leaving the song behind, for forms are limiting, it is heartwarming to acknowledge that Chaoba Thiyam, on his spiritual quest for beauty and serenity in life, presents us with this song. And we all get to be a part of it by listening to it. This song is merely a celebration of life in simple terms and with nature. After all, simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.
Chaoba Thiyam - vocal, flute, ukulele
Ton Arambam - classical guitar
Michael Ngangom - percussion
Jimbo Ningombam - keyboard
References: Click Here