For years now, London’s Talvin Singh has sent out the beacon to the South Asian diaspora to groove to his Asian Underground sound (the compelling mixture of electronica — mostly d&b — with Indian — usually classical — music). His clarion call has been answered, and now Singh has a new triangular trade with outposts in New York (with Karsh Kale and his Asian Massive crew) and New Delhi with the Midival Punditz.
Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj have been banging for years, and now their dhols can be heard all the way here in the U.S. Fresh off their cameo with Bill Laswell’s Tabla Beat Science and contribution to Monsoon Wedding, the Punditz have released their eponymous debut and are about to tour with Kale and DJ Cheb i Sabbah. If this album is any indication, the Delhi duo is about to make some noise in the contiguous 48.
The disc starts with “Air,” a smooth, heavily dubbed-out d&b track that sets an intriguing tone for the rest of the album. It lets you know that Midival has a culture-clash-meld vision and that Punditz is constructed with style, craft, and unconstrained talent. “Bhangra Fever,” stepping away from the usual classical dependency, is an electric electronic ode to the folk music that shakes your groove thang. “Fabric,” which appeared in Monsoon Wedding, is a dark, heavy gem that sits forebodingly on your chest, as does “Dark Age.” And “Far From Home” (an homage to Kale’s Home?) is an off-beat beat construct that is as disjointed as an epileptic doing the Running Man.
However, it is that kind of brash, yet reverential, artistry that is really fascinating. This is an album that can find its way into homes, chill-outs, clubs, and cars, giving the listener everything s/he wants without burdening them with the trite tripe one has come to expect. This is what music, as an art form, is all about: giving the audience something old (or ancient) in a new, innovative form that can reinvigorate the ears, appetite, maybe even the soul.
Six Degrees Records: http://www.sixdegreesrecords.com