Saturday, April 13, 2013

add 0220

How you view the Asian underground might well be a matter of geography. To those in the U.S., it's an English-based scene that blew up in 1997 and exploded. In Britain, its roots date back to the beginning of the '90s, as this compilation so excellently explains. Starting with the granddaddy and inspiration to all,Ananda Shankar, it takes off through the pioneers, like State of Bengal and Black Star Liner, with Fun-Da-Mental's "Ja Sha Taan" an especially strong track with its strong qawwali influence. But there are no bad cuts here. Orchestral World Groove's "Pyar" is marvelously atmospheric and Asian Dub Foundationsmokes, while Mahatma T offers an early glimpse of Talvin Singh, at one point the movement's poster boy. Full marks to compiler DJ Ritu -- a veteran of the scene herself -- for including a track by Sister India, who is unsigned to a label but remains quite successful (and from the sound of "Out of Place," the group deserves to be widely heard). If you though the Asian underground was all banging club beats, then this compilation is going to make you think again; it's a range of music, a mindset, if you will. And an unreleased track from Joi is simply icing on the cake. Maybe, as the notes suggest, the scene is currently in a lull; if so, you have to think it's just the calm before an even bigger movement erupts. A superb disc, excellently annotated.


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