Monday, January 10, 2011

Charanjit Singh - Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat (2010)

This is definitely one of the most anachronistic and geographically confusing records I've heard. At first listen, it may seem like a bold new career move by Aphex Twin or some other electronic visionary. But this is an original work recorded by Bollywood composer Charanjit Singh in 1982 that wasn't widely known in India, much less the world at large, until recently.

I won't try to get into the technical aspects of the record that make Ten Ragas a newly-heralded precursor of acid house because I'm no expert on the subject. But it's apparent that it's not just an oddity but also a fusion of the hypnotic acid and ancient Indian melodies. This fusion is pretty seamless and doesn't feel gimmicky at all, even though Singh was trying to cash in on the increasing popularity of electronic music in India.

The title tells you all you need to know about the album. It does consist of ten Ragas and they are actually set to a Disco beat. The synthesizer translates the lilting rhythms of Raga perfectly and the production quality isn't hindered at all by the fact that it was made 30 years ago in a third world country. The synth rhythms pulsate brilliantly throughout the album but Raga Madhuvanti is the highlight for me personally.

Regardless of whether or not it's a harbinger of acid, Ten Ragas can't be denied as a successful union of past and present and east and west.



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